Dear Field Educators--
Do any of you offer a fully 100% remote internship experience to students? We are 2 years into providing an Online MSW and we are debating if our program should make in person on site internships a fundamental requirement of the program. That being said, we have always had a policy that articulates how a student can count internship hours when working off site and unobserved (this includes if they are doing remote internship activities from home). Now with the online program we are being asked by administrators to consider 100% remote internships.
I am not a fan of this, but want to do my due diligence in gathering as much data and information to make an informed decision. My bias leans toward in person being a fundamental and functional requirement of our program. Is anyone aware of any research related to 100% remote field work and competency/student learning outcomes?
If anyone is doing this, I would love to speak with you . If anyone has done any deep dive regarding this and can share any information you have, I would appreciate it. THANK YOU!!!
I am responding to bring this thread back to the top of the radar. We do not offer 100% remote field placements unless there are extenuating circumstance, such as geographical location (rural, outside of a 30 mile radius from the student). However, students have continued to ask for remote placements. Have you had any luck in finding any research related to your question?
We just talked about this yesterday in our SWDE Field Consortium meeting. We have offered fully remote placements to some students. If the placement site is setup for remote work and they are able to operate this way and have solid plans for onboarding, supervision, mentorship, and appropriate levels of interaction and learning activities, we have approved. It is still uncommon that our students are completing fully remote placements, but for some students there are reasons, whether due to scheduling, geographic location, health conditions, etc that this is more feasible for them. I will also share, that I have had an intern working in our field office for the past couple of years and we have set this up as a remote placement because it is usually one of our online students who lives elsewhere.
I have not seen research on this and would be interested to hear if others have found any. Anecdotally though, this seems to work well as long as the site has adequate structure, activities and engagement, and the student is a good fit. I try to ensure that the student has a good understanding of how to structure and manage time in a remote placement and that they still recognize the expectation that they have a regular standing internship schedule, and have some professional maturity, ability to self directed and ask for help, etc.
In our conversation with other schools at the consortium meeting yesterday, some other schools seem to take a similar approach as us, some have done this on a very limited basis for extenuating circumstances, and some had very specific stipulations about equipment provided for students, such as laptops, phones, etc. I also think there may be different considerations for virtual placement depending on if they are a more clinical telehealth type of placement, or maybe a more macro focused placement with more limited direct client interaction.
Shenita, I appreciate you bumping this conversation back up because I think this is a really interesting development in field education and it's great for us to be talking about!
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