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Promoting a global knowledge sharing environment: development of an on-line community of practice between social work lecturers in the UK and India.

Paper presented at 2008 JSWEC Conference. An analysis of social work curriculum delivery in the UK appears to focus predominantly on UK society and practice. Social work has tended to be a locally specific discipline that has focussed on geographically bounded legislation, political configurations, economic frameworks, culture and norms (Dominelli, 2000). This may seem necessary as the majority of social work students will practice within their country of educational origin. However, it is also increasingly important that social work students gain knowledge of an international perspective due to the increasing globalised nature of social work together with an increasing transient social work population. Indeed, Dominelli and Bernard (2203, p.26) argue that: the theorisation of international social work and its impact on international exchanges in linking the global and the local has not been given high priority...This limited approach to internationalising social work has short-changed the profession... For a few social work students it is possible to gain first hand accounts of social work theory and practice from an international perspective through student exchange systems (Tesoriero and Rajaratnam, 2001). However, the majority of teaching and learning relies heavily on knowledge that is transferred from lecturer to student and, therefore, it is vital that lecturers gain an understanding of social work from a global view. This research adopts an action research perspective by facilitating first hand exchanges in dialogue between social work lecturers at Anglia Ruskin University, UK, and social work lecturers from the University of Mumbai, India. A on-line web based Community of Practice has been designed and has facilitated a collaborative inquiry over a one year period. The presentation will consider the setting up of the study: finding a collaborator; designing a web based Community of Practice; dominant themes arising from the collaboration. It will finally consider the impact on social work lecturer participants in relation to their continual professional development and how this gained knowledge is shared with their respective student population. References: Dominelle, L. (2000) 'International Comparisons in Social Work' in Pierce, R. and Weinstein, J. (eds) Innovative Education and Training for Care Professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishing Dominelli, L. and Bernard, T.W. (2003) Broadening Horizons: International Exchanges in Social Work. London: Ashgate Tosoriero, F. and Rajaratnam, A. (2001) Partnership in education: An Australian school of social work and a South Indian primary health care project. International Social Work 44(1) pp.31-41

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