Using Skype in the Classroom to Minimize Distances and Broaden Horizons

Randy Fingerhut, Associate Professor of Psychology, teaches in La Salle University’s doctoral program in Clinical Psychology and supervises students who are being trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, is a specific type of psychotherapy that addresses negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression and anxiety.

Screenshot of the Skype login window.  It is free to download and set up a Skype account, though some advanced features may require a premium subscription.

Screenshot of the Skype login window.
It is free to download Skype and set up an account, though some advanced features may require a premium subscription.

Over the past three years, Dr. Fingerhut has supplemented his students’ training by exposing them to international experts in CBT, so that they can benefit from these psychologists’ knowledge and experience. Dr. Fingerhut has used Skype to pair students with CBT specialists from Copenhagen, Istanbul, and Buenos Aires. Skype allows students and trainers to virtually meet via an online video and audio connection. Dr. Fingerhut also provides Skype CBT training to students from these countries.

Training sessions focus on developing CBT skills within students’ existing supervised clinical experience. Prior to a scheduled training session, students email a summary of one of their clinical cases to the CBT trainer. Students are asked to submit specific questions about CBT relative to their case to help guide the training session. Training sessions, which last about an hour, focus on addressing training questions, explaining CBT concepts, and demonstrating the use of CBT techniques.

Other doctoral students in Dr. Fingerhut’s supervision group can observe the Skype training sessions.  This provides students with the opportunity to learn from their peers’ experiences and the advice provided by the CBT trainers.  Trainees and observers can also ask the CBT trainer questions about the training session.

Picture of a Skype training session.

Skype training session projected for observers in the classroom.

Dr. Fingerhut has found that his experiences with Skype have been valuable for his students and a rewarding teaching experience for him.  He hopes to expand his network of CBT experts for future semesters.  Dr. Fingerhut and his colleague, Henrik Tingleff from Copenhagen, have collected preliminary data assessing the quality of students’ and trainers’ experiences with Skype.  They will present the results of this pilot study at The World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in Lima, Peru this summer.

In addition to the model that was used for Dr. Fingerhut’s students, there are other ways that Skype audio/video calls can be used to bring new voices into your classroom. For example:

  • Invite guest speakers from anywhere in the world to give a short presentation or lecture.
  • Connect with a representative related to a case study or company that your class is analyzing and give students an opportunity to ask questions.
  • Ask students to conduct Skype interviews with experts in their field and then present or write up a summary of their takeaways for the rest of the class.

Do you have ideas to share about using Skype in your classroom? Leave your suggestions in the comments! Also, feel free to get in contact with any member of the Instructional Design team if you want to explore these or other ideas.

3 thoughts on “Using Skype in the Classroom to Minimize Distances and Broaden Horizons

  1. Ed Marks

    Do you have to pay these experts to appear on Skype in your class? If not, how do you do it, and if so, where do the funds come from?
    Ed Marks PCC 644

    Reply
  2. Randy Fingerhut

    Hi Ed,

    We do not pay the trainers. We conceived of the Skype project as a co-op model. The trainers train each other’s students. So, they receive the benefit of getting an expert CBT trainer in exchange for providing training themselves.

    Reply

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