1 Fordham University (UNITED STATES)
2 University College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Page: 122 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Video conferencing technology offers many possibilities for international education exchange. This method of transcultural education has already been reported in other fields (Ekbald et al 2004) but has not yet been developed in social work education. This paper will report on an international initiative between two graduate schools of social work, one in the US and one in Ireland. The aims of the initiative were to increase student awareness of the global nature of social work education and practice and to also increase understanding of the similarities and differences that exist within the profession of social work. A total of 35 students from both programs participated in a joint class session using video conferencing. The class session was part of a required Foundation Practice course that teaches the skills necessary to effectively intervene with clients on an individual, family and group level. The theme selected for the joint class session was “Working with the Involuntary Client.” This is a content area that demands a special skill competence within social work and is often not given the attention it deserves. For the joint class session, each professor developed a representative case involving an involuntary client. Following some input from both professors, two student volunteers from each class enacted a live demonstration (roleplay) of a first interview with the client using the knowledge and skills learned thus far in their respective classes about work with involuntary clients. After each roleplay, the students from both classes discussed the demonstration offering their constructive feedback to each other. Students also had the opportunity to discuss more broadly the role of social work with involuntary clients in both jurisdictions. At the end of the joint class session, each student was provided with an anonymous feedback form that asked about what they had learned as a result of the joint session, their experience of the video conferencing technology and their recommendations for improvement. Using a template organizing style of interpretation, a content analysis of the feedback received was conducted to identify specific themes. Many students commented on the similar theoretical approaches used to work with clients in both countries. One professional difference highlighted by the students was that in Ireland, probation and child welfare are the primary areas of employment for professional social workers. Another difference identified was the existence of the field of school social work in the US, which does not exist in Ireland. The majority of the students also reported a high level of comfort with the use of video conferencing. Students also recommended that the amount of opportunities for international learning be increased through additional joint sessions and opportunities for on-going contact with the other students.

Ekbald, S., Manicavasagar,V. Silove, D., Baarnhielm, S. Reczycki, M., Mollica, R. & Coello, M. (2004) The use of International Videoconferencing as a Strategy for Teaching Medical Students about Transcultural Psychiatry, Transcultural Psychiatry, 41:1:120-129.
Vdeo conferencing, social work, international exchange.