Joe Whelan

Joe Whelan



Teaching interests

I am currently teaching, instructing and assessing in the areas of politics and social policy and social work on the modules listed below. SS1017 Politics and Social Policy 1; SS1018 Politics and Social Policy 2; SS1202 Introduction to Social Work, Theory, Methods and Skills; SS4212 Contemporary Issues in Social Work; SS2024: Fieldwork Placement SS3030: Fieldwork Placement SS3207: Placement Portfolio; SS3206 Placement 1 (BSW); SS4214: Action Research Study. I am currently the Year Coordinator for BSW1. I have previously supervised final year research students for Module SS3031 Social research Report. I now supervise final year BSW students undertaking undergraduate dissertations. Areas of particular teaching interest include: Concepts of welfare; Ideologies of welfare; The welfare state; Stigma and social welfare; Critical realism and philosophies of knowledge; Philosophy of ontology and epistemology; Capitalism, Marxism and Political economy; Social research, theory and practice; Social work values, theories and skills. The uniqueness of my teaching role on the BSW comes from teaching mature students exclusively and from challenging and encouraging them to draw on their own unique biographies while remaining open to new learning. This shapes my approach by challenging me to acknowledge and value different forms of knowledge, such as experiential knowledge while also encouraging students to go beyond their own experiences and critically engage with new forms of knowledge.

Describe your teaching philosophy

My teaching philosophy is based on a social constructionist logic of inquiry. Essentially, I believe it is much more conducive to knowledge retention if students are active in the task of discovering and attaining new knowledge. Therefore, I encourage peer to peer learning, task-based group work, and class discussion. I try to challenge students to think critically and to facilitate them to to begin to understand given material. Technology assists me in this task as it can often act as a prompt or a segue to deeper conversation. For example, I might show students a video clip and ask them to keep specific questions in mind as they watch. These questions may then be worked on in small groups before being opened up to a wider class discussion. Technology also assists on the basis of offering options and opportunities for invention and creativity. It also provides a strong link with students outside of the classroom environment, meaning that what is introduced in the classroom can often be extended beyond its initial introduction.

What technology do you use?

I use email; PowerPoint for all lectures; YouTube for viewing appropriate content both in class and as part of provided materials. I post all my materials on BlackBoard. I also use Twitter to identify content and I use Padlet to act as a repository for useful materials.

How do you use this technology?

For the last number of years I have used Padlet in two specific ways.Firstly, I have used it as an alternative to blackboard by creating a unique space to store and share materials. Secondly, I have used it as a tool for supervision when supervising final year students. Again, I post materials here for students to read and download throughout the duration of their research project. I find this works very well in both instances. I have also used YouTube in class by identifying short clips that simply explain complex concepts. I use PowerPoint for delivering all my lectures.

What are the advantages to using this technology?

Bringing technology into the classroom has several advantages. It is useful to create a dynamic environment and to break up the monotony of traditional lectures. Use of technology is also very useful for in-class assessment in terms of gauging where to pitch material to a particular groups of students. As an example of this, I may post a reading to either BlackBoard or Padlet and ask students to consider it ahead of the next scheduled lecture. A discussion of the reading at the beginning of the next class can often reveal a lot about where students are at. A further example of using technology to advantage stems from using Padlet in a specific way. In this case, a Padlet page was set up in respect to a specific piece of assessment. Students were then encouraged to use this as a resource for discussion and to ask each other and tutors and lecturers questions. Over the course of the assessment, this grew into a strong resource for the student group.

What are the disadvantages to using this technology?

Disadvantages usually amount to being let down by the technology or experiencing 'technical difficulties'. This can disrupt or slow down a lecture, which is often frustrating for both the lecturer and the student. Generally, when this happens, I just go 'old school', which is no harm every now and again, keeps me on my toes. I try to use technology to empower students but I am also cognizant that not all students will have access to technology outside of the college environment. In this respect, I always try to ensure that no student is unfairly disadvantaged through the use of technology by offering alternatives, such as hard copies of readings, when needed.

Which training resources helped you in this work?

I often find that YouTube is an excellent resource for short ,informative and freely available tutorials. For example, it may be something as simple as understanding how to use a particular feature of Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.

Funded by

Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA