Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner

Tarsem Singh Cooner

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Contact details

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Tarsem is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work, and Programme Director for BA Years 2 and 3.  In 2011 Tarsem was awarded a Birmingham University Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his wide ranging and significant interventions in learning and teaching across the institution. In his work across the institution he serves on the Board of the Valuing Teaching at Birmingham initiative, the University Learning Environment Group and the University Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) Steering Group.

Tarsem has been instrumental in developing innovative learning approaches such as his mobile phone/tablet app to help social workers explore how to navigate the ethical issues of using social media in social work. Also, this short film outlines a learning design he developed using Facebook to help students develop the skills and knowledge required to use social media as social work practitioners (click here to get open access to the related article in the British Journal of Social Work and related resources). As part of his responsibilities at the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health Tarsem has also been instrumental in developing the Designing for Enquiry-based Blended Learning (DiBL) for cross University staff development training programmes.


  • PhD
  • AdCertPT
  • MSocSc
  • CQSW
  • BA (Hons)


Before joining the University Tarsem was a Senior Social Work Practitioner and Accredited Practice Teacher working in a Children and Families team.  Tarsem is an Apple accredited Final Cut Pro film editor and experienced multimedia developer. He is also a published mobile app developer and has been a West Bromwich Albion season ticket holder for a number of years.


Tarsem teaches on the post and undergraduate Social Work programmes as well as being an academic tutor.  He currently teaches on the Child Protection, Readiness for Practice Learning and Mental Health Collaborative Learning Initiative. As part of the DiBL Management and Development Group, he also works with the University's Centre for Academic and Learning Development (CLAD).  He is jointly responsible for delivering the DiBL training programmes that aim to equip academic staff with the technical and pedagogic knowledge and skills required to promote the University's vision for flexible, blended, enquiry-based learning.

The following film illustrates how he has used Facebook and Enquiry-based Blended Learning to help students explore personal and professional boundary issues in social work.

Postgraduate supervision

Tarsem is happy to supervise PhD students in the areas of social media and social work, using digital technologies in social work education/practice, social work and online communities of practice, solution-focussed approaches in social work practice and social work and child protection practices.


Tarsem's research interests include the exploring potential of enquiry-based blended learning for interdisciplinary professional education, the impact of mobile technologies on the development of professional practice and the use of asynchronous learning technologies in encouraging professional reflection. He is currently exploring the potential of 360 degree immersive videos for professional education.

Tarsem is also a member of an ESRC funded research project exploring how social workers begin, develop and sustain relationships with children, or not, over time. He is working with colleagues from the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield and Auckland.

Other activities

Tarsem represents the College of Social Sciences on the University's Learning Environment Group and the Information and Technology Infrastructure Group.  He has also been responsible for co-writing the College of Medical and Dental Sciences e-Learning strategy. Tarsem is a member of the Social Care Institute for Excellence's e-Learning Materials Advisory Group; a member of the Steering Group as well as CEIMH co-investigator for the JISC funded SWAPBox Social Work and Social Policy Open Educational Resources Project.  Tarsem has also been a member of the steering panel for the Community Justice National Training Research into Open, Distance and e-Enabled Learning and Assessment, and a member of the e-Learning Sub-group for the Reform of Social Work Education and Training Practice Learning Project Group.  Tarsem is a board member of the British Journal of Social Work. Until recently he was also a member of Social Work Education Journal's Editorial Board. He has also recently contributed to the Open University's Enhancing Learning and Teaching through Technology podcast series.


Journal Publications:

Knowles, A., and Cooner, T.S. (2016) International Collaborative Learning Using Social Media to Learn about Social Work Ethics and Social MediaSocial Work Education, 35(3) pp 260-270.

Cooner, T.S., Knowles, A. and Stout, B. (2016) Creating a mobile app to teach ethical social media practices. Social Work Education, 35(3) pp 245-259.

Cooner, T.S. (2014) Using Facebook to explore boundary issues for social workers in a networked society: students’ perceptions of learning. British Journal of Social Work. 44(4), 1063-1080 

Wagstaff, C, Rose, J, Tew, J, Cooner, T.S. and Greening, J (2013), Qualitative evaluation of learning between different professional groups. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice. 8(4) pp 219-228

Cooner, T.S. (2011) Learning to create enquiry-based blended learning designs: resources to develop interdisciplinary education. Social Work Education, 30(3) pp 312-330.

Cooner, T.S. (2010), Creating opportunities for students in large cohorts to reflect in and on practice: lessons learnt from a formative evaluation of students' experiences of a technology enhanced blended learning design.  British Journal of Educational Technology. 41(2) pp 271-286.

Cooner, T.S. and Hickman, G. (2008) Child Protection Teaching: students' experiences of a blended learning design. Social Work Education. 27(6) pp 647-657.

Cooner, T.S. (2005) Dialectical constructivism: reflections on creating a web mediated enquiry-based learning environment. Social Work Education. 24(4) pp 375-390.

Cooner, T.S. (2004) Preparing for ICT Enhanced Practice Learning Opportunities in 2010 – a speculative view. Social Work Education. 23(6) pp 731-744.

Doel, M. and Cooner, T.S. (2002) A Virtual Placement: The creation of an interactive, web-based program to prepare students for 'live' placement. Journal of Practice Teaching. 4(1) pp 71-89.

Selected publications:

Cooner, T.S. (2014) Using closed Facebook groups to teach social work skills, values and approaches for social media. In J. Westwood (ed) Social Media in Social Work Education. Critical Publishing, Northwich.

Cooner, T.S. (2011), User/Carer Involvement in Education: Why you should use Web 2.0 technologies. Burning Issues in Learning and Teaching about Mental Health. London: Health Sciences and Practice Subject Centre. Available from http://repos.hsap.kcl.ac.uk/content/m10253/1.2/occp13.pdf.

Cooner, T.S. (2010), Designing for enquiry: using Web 2.0 to enable mental health service user and carer involvement. In  Bromage, A., Clouder, L and Gordon, F. (eds), Inter-professional e-learning and Collaborative Work: Practices and Technologies.  Hershey; USA: IGI Global.

Cooner, T.S. and Wagstaff,C. (2008) Learning Together: Reflections on developing an online assessment skills workbook for health and social care students. In S. Walker, M, Ryan and R. Teed (eds) Designing for Learning, University of Greenwich, London.

Online resources:

Combining Facebook and enquiry-based blended learning to teach social media skills

View all publications in research portal