Carmen Villavicencio-Hein, DSW ’24, Embeds AI in Silver’s School Social Work Training
To help meet the critical need for well-prepared school mental health professionals, Carmen Villavicencio-Hein, DSW ’24, is bringing innovative tools and cutting-edge teaching methods to NYU Silver’s School Social Work Training Academy. With a $2,000 grant from the online learning platform Course Hero, she is embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an experiential learning tool in a new course she has developed for MSW students on a career track toward working in urban K-12 educational settings serving diverse student and family populations.
A Supervisor of School Social Workers for the New York City Department of Education, Carmen was encouraged to develop and teach the course, entitled “Social Work Practice and Interventions in Urban School Settings,” by NYU Silver Dean Michael A. Lindsey and Clinical Professor Diane Mirabito. Dean Lindsey is the chair of Carmen’s DSW Capstone Committee and Dr. Mirabito is one of her committee members.
“Integrating AI in the course,” said Carmen, “will help me achieve more thoughtful pedagogy while enabling students to apply what they have learned in class to simulated situations in a way that respects and reflects students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences, which is also known as being ‘culturally responsive.’” She aims to use an AI software package that is culturally responsive and trained to recognize the widespread impact of trauma and to actively avoid retraumatization. “Harm reduction is of the utmost importance,” Carmen explained. “Offering students the opportunity to practice through simulation scenarios will reinforce the knowledge they’ve gained and allow them to apply, practice, and reflect on their learning before working directly with vulnerable students and families.”
Carmen expressed excitement about teaching the course and being part of the School Social Work Training Academy. “There is such a need for MSW students to come into our public schools with the critical knowledge and skills to support our young people. At the end of the day, our cities’ school social workers are seeing students and families from our at risk and marginalized populations. We need to be really thoughtful about how we prepare them for their critical role in urban educational settings.”