The Meaning of Online Social Work Education for Students and Faculty during COVID-19: Between Preservation and Change

Yaara Paz, Chaya Koren, Liat Shklarski, Yael Latzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Academic online social work (SW) education has developed over the decades, fully transitioning to it following the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies have examined the emotional responses, coping strategies and resilience of faculty and students to this transition. Our aim is to examine online education experiences and their meaning for faculty and SW students following the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed based on principles of thematic analysis. Interviewees included fifteen SW students and fifteen faculty members at schools of SW (n = 30) from universities and colleges throughout Israel, who also participated in a quantitative survey addressing online SW education. Findings include two themes: (i) Between the illusion of intimacy and the illusion of anonymity: Is it so? (ii) Experiences of difficulty, acceptance and choice relating to online education interactions. Both themes refer to interpersonal dimensions of communication and contact between faculty and students and among students. The desire to preserve a traditional education format versus openness to the online platform is discussed using critical reflexivity. Alternative education programmes combining the two should be developed. The unique and deceptive interplay between intimacy and anonymity in the online space should be considered in courses relying on interpersonal interaction and self-disclosure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3983-4001
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s).


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Social work education
  • anonymity
  • critical social work
  • intimacy
  • qualitative interview study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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