Reflecting on husITa16

As many readers will be aware husITa16 – the 10th international conference of husITa – was held in Seoul, Korea as part of the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development. Over 2,500 delegates from over 80 countries worldwide attended the event. This is the third occasion in which husITa have coordinated the technology subtheme inside the world conference with previous conferences in Melbourne, Australia in 2014; and Hong Kong, China in 2010. Given the ubiquitous presence of technology in so many aspects of human service organisations this arrangement ensures that technology related papers are presented to a wider audience and, at the same time, researchers and practitioners with a technology-related interest have the opportunity to network with peers.

The opportunity to network was grasped by three members of the husITa board when we discussed, over a working lunch, innovations in human service technology with colleagues from the Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development and members of the New Zealand Reimagining Social Work academic blogging collective.


From left: Prof. Yu Cheung Wong (Chinese University of Hong Kong); Elaine Loo (Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore); Grace Vaz (Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore); Poh Li Kee (Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore); Dr. Ian Hyslop (University of Auckland, NZ); Dr. Emily Keddell (University of Otago, NZ); Nancy Ng (Ministry of Family and Social Development, Singapore); Neil Ballantyne (Open Polytechnic, NZ); Gareth Morgan (Ferret Microsystems, UK).

The husITa technology subtheme attracted a fair share of delegates who were treated to seventeen papers on a diverse range of topics from the influence of smartphones on pattens of parenting in China, to problem-based eLearning in Germany, and the use of predictive risk modelling algorithms in the New Zealand child protection system. The ethics and issues associated with social media use by human service workers were also very evident in the papers presented, with one paper arguing for social workers to embrace social media as a proactive way of building relationships with service users.

For the first time we experimented with live broadcasting the presentations using periscope. Over time we will archive presenters powerpoint slides to the husITa website and, where we have permission, include the periscope video captures.

On the last day of the conference Dr John Fung from the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (see featured image above) gave the husITa16 keynote address to a packed hall full of delegates. His talk on the Challenges and Opportunities for Social Workers in the Contemporary Information Society gave delegates a lively, thought provoking and humorous account of the prospects and possibilities that technology holds for contemporary human services.



Image credit | Mario Sánchez Prada

The ancient yet hypermodern city of Seoul, home to 10 million residents, countless restaurants and a surreal blend of buddhist temples, street markets and ultramodern architecture, proved to be a stimulating context for husITa16. The next Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development event is planned for Dublin in 2018: register your interest now.

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