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social.digital – Help! We are digitalising

Report on the Arlt Symposium 2020 at the St. Pölten UAS

Arlt Symposium 2020
Copyright: St Poelten UAS / Stephanie Prauchner

On 16 and 17 September 2020, the St. Pölten UAS’ Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research convened the traditional Arlt Symposium. Held online for the first time, the specialist conference was devoted to the potentials of digitalisation in social work.

The focus was on new professional practice, best-practice examples, theories and methodologies as well as challenges for both the profession and the discipline.

Challenges, Potentials and Risks of Digitalisation

The Ilse Arlt Symposium 2020 was dedicated to potentials of digitalisation for professional activities in social work. Over the course of two days, more than 30 experts from research and practice presented the latest research results, specific methodologies and current challenges in a total of 9 panel sessions.

“The conference created an opportunity for social work professionals and others who are interested in the topic to discuss and critically reflect on the challenges, potentials and risks of digitalisation in social work“, says Johannes Pflegerl, Head of the St. Pölten UAS’ Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research.

Data Protection, Digital Humanism, Inclusion

Lisa Seidl of epicenter.works gave a lecture on the fundamental right to data protection, stressing the potentials of digital communication and aspects relating to the transfer of media competence. Julia Neidhardt of TU Wien spoke out in favour of digital humanism as a means to describe and analyse the complex relationship between technology and humanity in times of filter bubbles and echo chambers, and ultimately help create a better society.

Schifteh Hashemi and Clara Moder of “arbeit plus – Social Enterprises Austria“ presented the project “#diginclusion Digital Inclusion“, devoted to inclusion in the digital era. According to Hashemi and Moder, digitalisation offers both great opportunities and new dangers of exclusion for disadvantaged people – not only in terms of professional digital competencies but also when it comes to social and democratic political participation.

Gerhard Nussbaum of “KI-I – Competence Network Information Technology to Support the Integration of People with Disabilities“ talked on the topic of disability and digitalisation. According to Nussbaum, digital devices make the daily lives of people with disabilities easier and bring new possibilities and opportunities. Digitalisation means more autonomy and increased quality of life. At the same time, there are challenges to be taken into consideration.

Jakob Doppler and Johannes Pflegerl of the St. Pölten UAS presented transdisciplinary research focussing on Active Assisted Living by the Centre for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI) at the St. Pölten UAS. At the centre, researchers combine their expertise in the fields of Social Work, Healthcare and Technology to jointly develop innovations and solutions to provide the elderly with a better access to digital services.

Position Paper, Project Bazaar and Cabaret

In conclusion of the symposium, the participants discussed a position paper on “Social Work and Digitalisation”. In the paper, Peter Stade, Michael Doerk, Sierra-Barra and Alois Huber presented the work they have done so far. Digitalisation has become an inherent part of the lives of both those in need of social work support and the social workers themselves. As a result, existing social questions of power structures, social justice, and participation are reframed, and the topic of digitalisation gains increasing importance in all spheres of social work.

Social work is predestined to explore the phenomenon of “digitalisation“, both in terms of research and professional practice. As this debate is still at an early stage, the position paper serves as an open discussion paper to be continuously developed further. The position paper can be found at sozialdigital.eu.

At the Online Bazaar, projects at the interface of social work and digitalisation were presented. The programme also featured the cabaret “Homo@Socialis“ by UAS lecturer Alois Huber and Stefan Trenker of Integration Lower Austria.

social.digital | Help! We are digitalising

Social Work Science Day 2020, 16 and 17 September 2020

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FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Pflegerl Johannes

FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Johannes Pflegerl

Head of Research Institute
Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research
Lecturer Deputy Academic Director Social Work (MA) Deputy Head of Department Department of Social Sciences