USC is On the Cutting Edge with Virtual Social Work Training

Dr. Lynn K. Jones signing on to teach her class at the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academy

Dr. Lynn K. Jones signing on to teach her class at the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academy

It is no secret that the University of Southern California (USC) has a great social work school.  It is also no secret that there is a shortage of trained social workers, especially in rural areas.

Thanks to a recent innovation of the USC School of Social Work, that problem may be solved!  Using the latest web sharing technology, students in training to be social workers around the world can now take advantage of a live classroom at USC with their instructor.

Their instructor is somebody like Dr. Lynn K. Jones (me!), who is sitting at my desk in Santa Barbara, and talking to my students with my video webcam.  My students are sitting in their own homes and offices around the country with their own video webcams.  We can all see each other.  No putting yourself on mute and social networking in this class!!  Want to hide out at the back of the class?  Forget about it—every seat is a front row seat.

Today, two of my students will be presenting to our class.  They have a powerpoint that they will share that they developed and they have a handout that they will pass out.  We will then go into virtual breakout groups for small discussions and then come back together to exchange ideas as a larger group.  All the teaching features that I have in a face-to-face class are part of the learning experience of this virtual classroom.

Professional social work training has long cornered the market on “process.”   To create a rich experience of that process on-line, without the face-to-face experience of a traditional classroom, however, is a supreme challenge.  The USC School of Social Work Virtual Academy has figured out how to bridge that gap.

Social workers who want to be licensed in their state may need to go to a school that is accredited in their state.  This is additional issue for nontraditional social work programs, but not for the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academic Center, as it is accredited in 38 states.

USC Dean, Marilyn Flynn, discussed with the LA Times not only how the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academic Center is meeting the growing demand for social workers, but also how they have developed specialized social work programs to meet special needs populations, like veterans.  The school was the first in the nation to offer a graduate specialization in military social work, where social workers learn the latest treatment approaches for the growing legions of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and head injuries.  Now that program is also available through the Virtual Academic Center.

Making excellent social work training available to social workers around the world is good for our communities and the people in all our lives that we care about.



p.s. I always am interested in what you think about these discussions. Please post your thoughts on the blog…your constructive criticism and support is appreciated!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Your MOJO Maven


  1. Calla Gold on March 29, 2011 at 2:59 am

    I’m delighted to know that this program is available. The fact that rural students can benefit from a USC quality education is fantastic.
    With your brave-new-world openness to technology, you Dr. Lynn are the perfect Dr. to do this training.
    I’m pleased that you are helping to educate those who wish to help others.
    Calla Gold

  2. Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 29, 2011 at 3:10 am

    It is a delight for me to be part of this program, Calla. It is so exciting to see my students be energized by social work and their ability to make a contribution as they experience the richness of the material on this technological platform!

  3. Jennifer Costello on March 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I was so excited to find the virtual MSW program offered by USC. I was a little skeptical at first, but my experience so far has been wonderful. The professors are very available to meet with their students during virtual office hours and the quality of the student body is superb! I have met some really wonderful people through the virtual classroom; people who live all across the country. While the workload is intense, the experience is amazing.

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      It is exciting that this program has both the rigor of the USC Social Work Program along with the dynamic vibrancy that is added when people from all over the country can interact in a meaningful way.

  4. Kristen Turso on March 30, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I had been looking for an online MSW program since I graduated in 2008 with my Bachelor’s in Sociology. The few I found were strictly online schools and I was scared it would be unappealing to future employers. I wanted an advantage in today’s cut throat economy and job market and I wasn’t finding it. I was SO ecstatic to find this program. For the first time since my layoff in ’09 I felt so hopeful about my future and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of this program (and community) with such a steller reputation for this field. It’s been a whirlwind of crazy, but I couldn’t be happier.

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Glad that it is working out so well for you. I am so thrilled that so many more people can take advantage of the excellent professional training offered in the USC School of Social Work!

  5. Nicole Browning on March 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    From the student’s viewpoint, it’s nice to hear that there is currently a shortage of social workers and that we will likely find employment after completing the program.

    I love the convenience of the virtual campus… the commute is zero compared to the traffic surrounding USC and most of the materials are just a keystroke away.

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      That is so true, Nicole. Most of our students in social work have really busy lives, which is great because they bring a lot of life experience to the profession. It is nice that the Virtual Academy reduces a lot of time stuck in traffic getting to class and going to the library! So glad to have you in class!
      Dr. Jones

  6. Jill Smith on March 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I live in an area without many graduate school options, so I see the MSW@USC as a great opportunity. The combined experiences of students from all over the country creates a unique and challenging learning environment — something quite different than I would be experiencing at the local university.

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      It is truly wonderful that this great professional training for social workers is now available around the country.

  7. Jessica Horton on March 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    When I first started the MSW program at USC, I was blown away at how technologically advanced it is. I feel like I am getting as much out of this program as I would if I were physically attending the classes. I am a stay at home mom so being able to still stay home with my kids and work on my degree is great. It is also nice to know that there is such a need for social workers so when I graduate, I will have many options when choosing a job.

  8. Dr. Lynn K. Jones on March 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I am not surprised that you were blown away by the technology. It is definitely at a blow you away level! It has been fun learning with you all the ways that this technology supports the learning platform of our class!

  9. Clarissa Bravo on March 31, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I was so excited when Professor Jones, told us in class VAC MSW program was featured in the LA Times. I shared the link on my facebook page. I feel proud and happy to be a part of this program and also knowing that when I complete the program, I will be able to help people as a profession, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on April 21, 2011 at 4:10 am

      I can understand why you are proud that your social work school is in the LA Times. It is rare that social work schools, unfortunately, get much coverage in a major newspaper like the LA Times, and is a real testament to what MSW@USC is doing! Glad that you are part of it!
      Dr. Jones

  10. NANCY MCFARLAND on March 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I am a student in this program and really enjoy it. The energy is warm and inviting, despite it being online. The students bond and support each other perhaps more because of the virtual environment (well, social work students would be supportive, right?).

    What USC has accomplished with this platform is remarkable. It is quite impressive that the school has maintained both intellectual integrity and professional support with this format. I do not feel ‘cheated’ by the virtual experience at all.

    It is a marvelous option!

  11. Elizabeth Williams on March 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I, like Clarissa, am very proud to be a part of such an innovative program. I joined the program in hopes to gain further skills to continue developing and building my nonprofit organization. I’m sure it is no coincidence that one of my professors in my very first semester is Dr. Jones, who is not only a capable teacher of Social Work skills but is a career and executive coach… just what I need!

    • Dr. Lynn K. Jones on April 21, 2011 at 4:08 am

      I am glad to play a part in your professional development and hope that I will also be a resource for you as you develop your nonprofit!
      Dr. Jones

  12. Patricia F. Consolo on June 3, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Not only am I impressed with Dr. Jones cutting edge program, I am impressed with her. Congratulations on bringing the gift of social work education to many. We need more educated and clinically sound social workers to form assuage from the life many live. Patricia

    • lynnkjones on June 3, 2011 at 2:10 am

      Thank you, Patricia. It has truly been an inspiration to me to be part of the program.

  13. francismeyer on September 4, 2012 at 3:25 am

    I think if you are also wanted to make your career as a social worker then first of all you should get a training for becoming a social worker..You should also have good social skills.

    • DrLynnKJones on September 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

       @medical social worker overview Very true.  Social workers need to be highly trained and emotionally intelligent!
      Dr. Jones

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