Best Practices in Professional Distance Education: A Hybrid Social Work Distance Education Program in South Texas

By: Denise A. Longoria, Ph. D., LCSW, Héctor Luis Díaz, Ph. D. — The University of Texas – Pan American


The operation of distance education programs can be quite challenging especially when offering professional programs that require internships, practica and teaching courses that focus on skill development.  It is difficult for instance to teach counseling and other skills through the internet.  Nevertheless, the department of social work at The University of Texas – Pan American has developed a hybrid distance education program that enables it to effectively deliver a bachelor’s and a master’s in social work in the two remote locations of Laredo and Brownsville, Texas with the assistance of modern educational technology.  This program provides access to accredited social work programs in a geographic area covering approximately 300 miles in the state of Texas.  The programs are delivered through a combination of Blackboard, teleconference, Wimba, Skype, cellular phones, reduced seating courses, and Face to Face courses taught on at remote sites by adjuncts or full time faculty members.   UTPA is uniquely positioned to respond to this educational need given that we currently represent the only viable CSWE accredited social work department offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work south of Austin and Houston, Texas.