Biography

Dr Amanda M.L. Taylor-Beswick joined the University of Cumbria to develop a Centre for Digital Transformation. The goal is to help the University progress and lead as a real-world relevant education provider; as a place of digital inclusion for people and communities; and as a broker of value generation for businesses and their employees, through the unlocking of human, data and intelligent digital capabilities.

Dr Amanda ML Taylor-Beswick’s background is as a social scientist. Her professional and academic careers began in Northern Ireland, before taking up a substantive teaching post in the School of Social Work, Care and Community at the University of Central Lancashire in 2009. Prior to this, she practiced as a residential social worker, a psychiatric social worker, an adult mental health groupwork practitioner and as a specialist social worker for D/deaf children and their families in Northern Ireland's integrated health and social care system. In October 2019, she relocated back to Northern Ireland to pursue her research interests and academic contributions at the prestigious Queens University Belfast, within the Faculty of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.

The earlier part of her academic trajectory focussed on the consolidation of her teaching and learning capabilities. During and since that time she has developed a range of teaching and learning methodologies, some of which have attracted local, national and international recognition. An example of which is the widely known Social Work Book Group, a synchronous and asynchronous groupwork approach to social work education, which blends both traditional and digital methods to consolidate practice knowledge and to encourage research mindedness. Additionally, she co-developed @SWVirtualPal, a project that digitised the pen pals methodology, with the aim of connecting social work practitioners, students, academics and researchers across the globe.

Investment in the development of her pedagogic knowledge and skills has resulted in several nominations and awards, the most recent being the UK Government’s Top Women in Tech Award (2018). Dr Taylor-Beswick was the only nominee from an academic background to secure a top three position through a public vote. Recognition on this occasion was linked to the use of modern technologies to develop pedagogic practices in social work education and across the professional education field. She is dual qualified, as a Social Worker and Higher Education Educator – for the latter having completed the Teaching Toolkit Certificate in Higher Education, the PGCert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and SEDA.

Alongside previous teaching and learning responsibilities, Dr Taylor-Beswick successfully defended her doctoral thesis in July 2019, for a research project that ‘Examine the Contribution of Social Work Education to the Digital Professionalisation of Students in Readiness to Practice’. This study was aimed at informing the development of social work education in a way that prepares students to respond to 21st century social need. The findings showed that the brave new digital world requires bold, new methods of delivering social work education; and that curriculum content, as relevant to the information age, needs to be reimagined in a way that responds to new, unfamiliar and even more complex forms of social problems. The education and development of practitioners who are equipped to adapt as the world adapts is crucial to future practice effectiveness, criticality pertaining to digitalisation and, interprofessional knowledge and skills are key to this. In response to the findings, she developed a framework for ‘Digitising Social Work Education’ that considers curriculum design, content and delivery, in line with practice readiness, as linked to the digital shift and graduate employment. 

Dr Taylor-Beswick was employed at QUB for her digital expertise, briefed to progress pedagogic practices across the Faculty and Schools – expertise that became more relevant than had been previously imagined given how the global health crisis demanded a seismic pedagogic and digital pivot across higher education sector.

The global pandemic has served to increase the number of requests for Dr Taylor-Beswick’s expertise. Some relating to research agendas, a significant amount regarding practice continuity in social care services, and some sought to support programmes of learning in higher education pivot into the online. 

Dr Taylor-Beswick explains that she is ‘delighted to have secured the role of Digital Transformation at the University of Cumbria, as it continues to mature as a robust educational provider'. She is very much looking forward to working with the University’s communities of practice, students, businesses, employees and people across the region and plans to share the progress of the Centre's work as it proceeds.

Dr Taylor-Beswick views herself as a ‘globally’ connected scholar and is keen to connect through her professional social media accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Qualifications and memberships

Teaching and Innovation Awards

Grants

  • 2022 Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council: 231,520K. Serious Storytelling in Software Engineering Research Network
  • 2020 MRC/AHRC/ESRC Engagement Award – Nothing about Us without Us: Examining Activism as a Mental Health Intervention: 100K https://www.boingboing.org.uk/nothing-without-us-update/
    2020 ESRC Impact Acceleration Award: Immersive 360 video for PTSD Treatment. 4K
  • 2019 ESRC Impact Acceleration Award: 10K Reducing Opioid Related Deaths for individuals who are at high risk of death from overdose on release from prison and within the homeless hostels for drug users; an issue further complicated by the impacts of COVID19.
  • 2019 BASW/SCIE Digital Capabilities of Social Workers in England Project: 5K https://www.basw.co.uk/media/news/2019/jun/basw-and-scie-survey-digital-capabilities-social-work . Role: Academic Consultant to the Project. Stakeholders report: https://www.scie.org.uk/social-work/digital-capabilities/stakeholders
  • 2018 Award $10,000 from the Kendall Institute for International Social Work Education Advisory Board, in partnership with the University of Alabama Birmingham, USA. “The KAKI grants are given in recognition of conceptual, curricular, and programmatic innovations in education for international social work. Based on your work, the Committee felt your research and contributions to the greater community are closely aligned with this mission”. The aim of this work is to develop an app for the Social Work Virtual Pal innovation @SWVirtualPal #SWVirtualPal; aim at connecting social work students, academics and practitioners from around the globe.
  • 2013 Higher Education Academy (HEA) Changing the Learning Landscape (CLL) Grant to develop the use of digital technologies in Higher Education. Awarded £2500.00 for the purchase of Kindle devices to support a national Book Group Project in Social Work Education and practice.

 

Academic and research interests

Dr Taylor-Beswick has a keen and pragmatic interest in the digitalisation of professional education and higher education more broadly, which includes the development of pedagogic approaches that supports the progression of information and media literacies for academics, students, and practitioners already practising in their respective fields. 

Research supervision

PhD Support Supervision

PhD Team 3rd Supervisor Psychosocial Research Unit UCLan, 2016.

PhD Team 2nd Supervisor Digital Mental Health Research Center QUB 2019.

Publications

My publication history coincided with the completion of a number of teaching qualifications; a process that enabled me to consider my contribution to the development of professional social work education.

Thesis

Articles

Books

Book Chapters

Papers and Public Presentations

Podcasts and Vlogs

  • Digitalising Social Work Education Interview, The Podcast, Lisa Cherry (2022) [podcast] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrWyqSuBdZQ
  • AHSS, (2022) Queens University Belfast Digitising Curriculums of Learning for a Changing Digital World [podcast]
    https://open.spotify.com/episode/1JMkSg8MsPeXEROotjsOMj?si=SfjY64gySI6o3nz4ibsoJg&dl_branch=1&nd=1
  • Musing Research Ethics with Indie Researcher, Write and Keynote Speaker Dr Helen Kara (2021) [vlog] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPmtNJRFJjE&feature=youtu.be
  • Western Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland. Social Work and Digitalisation – Personal and Professional Considerations [podcast] https://vimeo.com/454307849
  • Moving practice online – New Beginnings CIC Greater Manchester [vlog] https://www.newbeginningsgm.com/
    BASW (2019) Listen in to episode 9 with Luke Geoghegan, Head of Policy and Research (BASW) and special guest Amanda Taylor-Beswick who is a registered social worker, Senior Lecturer of Social Work and acknowledged expert in social work and digital technology. Amanda has been thinking, writing and teaching about it for 10 years now [podcast] https://soundcloud.com/basw/baswtalk-ep-9-social-work-and-technologies-thinking-out-loud-about-the-digital-shift
  • Social World Podcast. Amanda Taylor discusses the value she has found in social work book groups and all the possibilities that stem from it. http://socialworldpodcast.com/joint-sw-education-conference-3/. [Podcast] In: JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, July 2013, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Social World Podcast. Six authors launching their new book at the conference “Social Media in Social Work Education” http://socialworldpodcast.com/040-jsweconference-part-6/ [Podcast] In: JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, July 2013, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Book Reviews

Blog Posts

Newspaper Articles and Press Releases

Conference Organisation

  • 2015 JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference Co-Organiser, Open University
  • 2014 JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference Co-Organiser Royal Holloway London
  • 2013 JSWEC Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference Co-Organiser Royal Holloway London

Journal and Review Work

Editorial Board Member for Groupwork Journal 2014 https://journals.whitingbirch.net/index.php/GPWK/issue/view/124.

Book Review Editor Journal of Technologies in Human Services 2019 https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=wths20

  • Australian Social Work Reviewer
  • Child and Family Social Work Reviewer
  • Groupwork Journal Reviewer
  • Journal of Practice Teaching in Health and Social Work Reviewer
  • Social Work Education: An International Journal Reviewer
  • Journal of Technologies in Human Services Reviewer

Recent external roles

Funded Knowledge Transfer

  • Blackpool County Council
  • Sussex County Council
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Suffolk County Council
  • Research in Practice UK
  • Clic-Sargent UK

Professional Development Topics: Digital Professionalism in Social Work; Social Media and Social Work; Emotional Intelligence; Supervision; Loss and Grief; Deafness and Diversity; Groupwork Theory and Skills.

Between 2016-2018 Digital Professionalism and Digitalisation Courses have been commissioned by Local Authority and County Councils across England. 

Memberships of Associations, Collaborations & External Activities

International Board Membership of human services Information Technology association (husITa) http://www.husita.org/about-us/the-board/. 2015-current

JSWEC International Education and Research Group Board Member 2019-current

Programme re-approval Glasgow Caledonian University-External Expert Social Work April 2014

Programme re-approval University of Chichester Specialist-External Adviser Social Work Jan 2014

External Examiner, Professional Social Work Courses, Lancaster University, UK. 2020-current

External Examiner for BA (Hons) Social Work Glasgow Caledonian University Social Work Programme 2014-2017