Part of the online experience is discussion boards. These can be done either written or video recorded. When you enroll into the MSW program, there is a student code of contract that needs to be reviewed and signed. One area of the contract explains that the student should maintain a professionalism in the classes. This also applies to discussion boards. Throughout my educational experience at OLLU, I have appreciated that this contract was in place.
Even though there was a difference of opinions in the posts or videos, the difference was handled in a professional manner. There were no personal attacks because of my opinions or beliefs. I enjoyed being able to post or record what I thought without having to worry about receiving negativity from others.
In my undergrad experience, there was no such contract. I remember more than once that I was criticized or had negative replies just for expressing my opinion. The student contract at OLLU helps set a standard for students to follow. We as students will not always agree on certain social work or policy topics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to meet in the middle without hostility or cynicism. The contract made my posting either written or recorded much more enjoyable and safe. I felt safe in the things that I shared with other students.
When I first looked at it and signed the contract, I thought that this should be obvious to do. But as time went on, I saw the professionalism of other students. How they would write and respond to other students. It was as if were all employed by the same employer (OLLU) and we treated each other with respect and building opportunities for improvement.
The contract also helps build a foundation of professionalism that you will need in your social work practice including your field placement. I find myself being professional not only with the employees that I associate with but also with my clients. I maintain respect for their differing views that they might mention in group or in an individual session. Being professional is a trait that might seem old fashion but really is needed in our social work practice. I have seen the opposite of professionalism and I know it can drastically affect the image of the agency and its workers when dealing with clients or their families.
The contract that we sign as students doesn’t need to be only for the classroom. We can carry the spirit of professionalism into our field placement and in our entire future social work practice. Being professional builds and maintains trust with our clients. After all trust is what we want from our clients if we want to help them in the change process.