Mobile Apps and the Savvy Social Worker

Icon from our Savvy Social Worker App

Icon from our Savvy Social Worker App

Last spring I was asked by Lindsey Getz of Social Work Today to weigh in on the topic of mobile applications (apps) in social work — I think they found me through my blog post on this topic. Lindsey wrote a great article, and, per usual, the University at Buffalo (UB) university news service mentioned the article in an university-wide email. A few weeks later a UB staff member, Matthew Stock, contacted me to see if I wanted to develop an Android app for social work. Matt and I had worked together in the past on a committee that I had chaired for one of the information technology university projects. I had really enjoyed working with him — he’s a tech whiz who also has excellent management and people skills. And he’s also just a great guy– so I was intrigued by the invitation and decided to take him up on it. But that then raised the issue of what type of app to develop.

An App is Born

As I thought more about apps and social work I decided that the best way to select an app was to think about what problems or challenges an app could help solve. As luck would have it, I attended the 10 year celebration of an evidence-based practice project that we’ve been spearheading. The graduates (who were now supervising students from the project) talked about how hard it is to stay abreast of new developments in practice, especially evidence-based practice. This also is a challenge that I’ve heard often from workshop attendees as well as from alumni. And that’s how we came up with the idea for The Savvy Social Worker app. Matt made it come alive, and we we released it at this years Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Program Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Savvy Social Worker is really very simple: it’s just a newsreader where we have pulled in key RSS feeds from around the United States. However, few social workers understand the concept of RSS feeds, let alone know how to pull them in. And few people will take the time to go around the web and identify all the feeds to put them in one place. I know that I’ve found the app useful, simple though it is. So I hope that others will, too.

Social Work Apps & The Tipping Point

As a result of this experience I’ve become more interested in social work apps. My sense is that social work/human services apps are approaching the “tipping point” and that we will see many, many more. DorleeM and I have started to collect social work apps on our shared Pinterest Board. So I would love to hear your ideas on this topic on any or all of these questions:

  • What apps would you like to see developed for social work?
  • Do you agree with my assessment about the “tipping point” for apps in social work? Why or why not?
  • Have we missed any good apps on our Pinterest Board?
  • Any other thoughts on this topic?

You can download the Savvy Social Worker  from here, in the Google Play store

10 thoughts on “Mobile Apps and the Savvy Social Worker

  1. Hi Dr. Smyth,
    This is my first visit to your blog. I was linked from Pinterest. I am an ’09 graduate of UBSSW. I’m practicing psychotherapy in Baltimore. I downloaded the app this morning. I like it already. As you mentioned, I also want to know the latest development in social work practice. Yet that becomes difficult while working full time. I love that the apps brings everything to one place and enables one to save what is important for them.
    I definitely think that apps and social media are beginning to play a bigger part in social work practice. I have found Pinterest to be very helpful. I love being able to connect and share links, images and ideas with other social workers and mental health professionals. I would love to see more forms of social media that allow social work professionals to connect. Although, I currently only use Facebook and Pinterest, so there may be more out there already that I am missing.
    Thanks for the app and your continues commitment to the latest developments social work practice.


    • Hi Mary, it’s always great to connect with one of our alumni! If you’re a Pinterest fan you might enjoy this tweet I just shared on Twitter about how a therapist used Pinterest in her practice:

      You also might like to check out the social work activity on Twitter, which I have found is an awesome way to connect with social workers around the world. I’ve personally found it to be the best social media platform to connect with social workers, although LinkedIn groups can also be good. I have a Twitter list of about 500 social workers here (you might have to open a Twitter account to see it) Also, Twitter has several weekly social work chats/debates; two are mentioned here:


    • Hi Melissa…yes, our developer, Matt, will start to work on a iOS version soon. I’ll certainly post it here (and I’ll even post a reply to this comment) to alert you. Thanks for your interest!


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  4. Check out the chillApp Plan in the apple store and the feelingometer. As a social worker who has developed 2 apps, it’s been a very interesting ride. I loved the article.


    • Unfortunately, no, Melissa. Our volunteer developer is juggling several projects and this is his first iOS project. I’ll post on my blog when it’s available, and I’ll leave a comment on this post, as well. You can sign up for notifications of new blog entries (top right on my home page) or for new comments on this entry.


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