The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Dr. Michael W. Roffe

1956...Disneyland just celebrated its 2nd year of existence, headlines focus on the dramatic rescue of 1634 passengers from the collision of the Andrea Doria with the Stockholm near the coast of Massachusetts, Henry Ford introduces the hard-top convertible aannnd...Psi Chi opens a chapter with the fledgling Department of Psychology at CSLA!

A fortieth year birthday greeting to all the members of Psi Chi with my best wishes for many, many more.

Think about it! Over the timeline that reaches us now in 1996, the Department of Psychology has contributed literally thousands of graduates to the community in the Los Angeles area and beyond. Today, the headlines read of "Cyberspace" and the "Information Superhighway;" it's a new vocabulary with new concepts and visions of what the reality of our lives will look like in the 21st century. That's really what I want to talk to you about in this issue, the latest technological developments that directly affect the Department of Psychology, and more particularly, exciting resources available to our students.

The World Wide Web (WWW) is the current hot medium to surf the Internet for intriguing information and resources. Typically, a viewer such as Netscape, is the preferred means of scanning world-wide pages which are chock-full of information on practically any subject you can think of. The pages are written in hypertext, a language in which words can be linked to other resources, so that highlighted words on a page are really gateways to other locations archiving more resources. The whole idea is to point a mouse, click on a highlighted word and "jump" to a new location.

Several assumptions underlying this modality are important to the learning process and I think worth consideration. First, the user is following their interests as they naturally occur in the learning process rather than only following a predetermined stream of thought presented by the provider of the information. In other words, if your interest in a topic is peaked before you get to the end of the page, you just "jump" to the related idea and follow your instincts. Secondly, the user is actively constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving the material from another. Thus the user develops a larger "gestalt" for the relevance of the ideas that gave rise to their interest in the first place. Lastly, and I think most importantly, users are reacquainted with the sense of "awe" that can accompany the learning process. It's very exciting to feel that there is so much to learn out there, and you have the means to access it. A revolution in the way we think about learning of this magnitude is rare.

The Department of Psychology now has its own homepage for your viewing pleasure, naturally. To locate the address, "open" your viewer to: /sites/default/files/academic/_psych/ html/deptmenu.htm." Our homepage is divided into three main sections; first there's the main course, the "Guide to the Psychology Department" which details the department's programs and activities, faculty (with photos mind you), Psi Chi and the Looking Glass (that means you're international folks!). Next comes "Psychology Related Resources." Now this may be of real interest to you since I've included a section on "Student Services and Information in Psychology." Maybe you'd like some tips on writing APA style, asking for letters of recommendation, or looking for a graduate school that might fit your next career'll find it all here at your disposal. But, the fun doesn't stop there, you can search world-wide resources for information on crucial and/or obscure psychological issues. One major index is "Cognitive and Social Sciences on the Internet" from Stanford University which points to thousands of links on major psychological informational tools. Another site of interest is "The Coombsweb - ANU Social Sciences WWW Server" which is a major index of research information from the Pacific Rim area. If that's not enough to occupy your free time or use as a basis for your research interests, you might just "jump" to the page "Psychology Around the World"...that should keep you fairly busy.

As far as professional organizations go, you can access the American Psychological Association's PsychNET, the Behavioral Analysis Homepage or FreudNet to check out what's going on from one end of the profession to the other. Finally, there's a section of resources devoted to "Educational and Technological Resources on the Internet." Here you'll find such varied links as "Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections," the "Journal on Excellence in College Teaching" (which I hope my colleagues will take an interest in), and "The World Lecture Hall," a compendium of classes now being offered through the use of the WWW.

Listen! This is just the short list I've given you. You're going to have to see it for yourselves to begin to explore the range of activities now exploding on the information network they call the Internet. But the great thing is, it's totally available to you as CSLA students. You just need to have a computer account and password and you're ready to start this journey. Believe me, once you start, you won't look back and your way of thinking about the transfer of knowledge for the future will have expanded enormously. By Spring Quarter '96 the Psychology Lab will have the Netscape viewer as part of its Scholar's Work Environment menu of choices. This should make the process of accessing the WWW a little easier for our students.

When I have a free moment, I'm going to take on my next project of offering a class as part of our undergraduate program, especially designed to acquaint our students with how to use this phenomenal resource as part of their educational tools during their stay at CSLA. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw a familiar face or two of my colleagues who are just waiting to get on the "Information Bandwagon" with you!


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