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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2011

Internationalizing the Teaching of Psychology by Using Emerging Social Media
Richard Velayo, PhD, Pace University (NY)

A growing number of psychology instructors recognize the importance of incorporating a more global perspective in the courses they teach, especially as people become increasingly interconnected and interdependent with the growth of Internet-based technologies worldwide (Power & Velayo, 2006; Velayo, 2000).

Social media technologies provide opportunities that help internationalize the education and training experience of students. Blogs, wikis, Facebook, Google groups, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Skype are among the more common web platforms used to enhance collaboration and sharing among learners. As a result, the instructor’s role is changing more towards facilitation and mentoring in a collegial atmosphere supported by these kinds of technologies (Wankel, 2010).

Below is a list of the most common social media technologies with links to their main sites.

Blog (;,
Facebook (
Google Groups (
LinkedIn (
Second Life (
Skype (
Twitter (
Wiki (;
YouTube (

Psychology instructors may not use all of these technologies, but knowing what the technologies can do is important in determining which ones are useful for integrating a more international perspective in teaching. The proposed approach is not necessarily for the instructor to add or incorporate international content in a course, but to facilitate collaboration and engagement using social media technology to further student learning.

Why Use Social Media to Internationalize the Teaching of Psychology?
Now, widespread use of the Internet to educate and train students allows for a greater rate of knowledge sharing and understanding among people of various nations. Emerging social, cultural, environmental, and political issues impose complex challenges and demands on our discipline. There is a growing need to be responsive to the demands of a growing multiracial, multiethnic, and multinational network of people within the field. By promoting greater appreciation and understanding of people worldwide, instructors can efficiently internationalize teaching using these newer collaborative technologies.

As with many other disciplines, psychology has begun to tap into social media technologies to engage students and to provide them with the kind of "international experience” that would otherwise be relatively difficult, time-consuming, and more expensive with traditional approaches such as inviting a speaker from abroad, engaging in student travel abroad programs, or changing an established curriculum.

In general, students tend to be relatively more comfortable and more engaged with new technologies than their instructors. Technology savvy students can be wonderful allies to help instructors learn ways to effectively use these technologies in their courses. Students may even enjoy serving as collaborators to integrate such technologies in ways they think may be most engaging to their peers.

Some Strategies to Internationalize Teaching
For colleges and psychology departments to internationalize their curricula, faculty members need to find effective and creative ways to incorporate new material into their lesson plans (Grenwald- Mayes & Moore, 2000). Internet-based technologies continue to significantly impact the globalization of psychology in training and education, practice of psychology, and psychological research (Velayo, 2000). These technologies promise to be particularly relevant and effective pedagogical devices in internationalizing the psychology curriculum (Velayo, Oliva, & Blank, 2008).

Blogs and Wikis
Blogs are generally web pages that contain journal-like entries on any topic and can archive relevant comments from students and instructors around the world. Instructors can create a blog for students to share their international experiences in relation to course content.

For example, in a social psychology course, students can comment on various theories of interpersonal attraction given their own unique experiences. They may be required to ask someone they know from another country to do the same. Such blogs can generate interesting discussions and a realization that there are cross-national differences in what others consider attractive.

In another example, students, and even professionals, from different cultures or nations could discuss whether a particular behavior or belief is emic (culture specifi c) or etic (culture neutral). Instead of lecturing or providing notes, it may be more effective if material were gathered in a blog for discussion. The instructor, and students could read the comments and contribute to an enhanced discussion given the myriad of interesting responses.

Wikis are generally web pages in which students work collaboratively online. For example, a student group in a psychotherapy course could collaboratively work on a web page or write on the topic of cultural differences in treating depression. Students could continually comment and revise the page. It would be interesting to have them ask other students taking a similar course in another country to also comment and/or collaboratively work on the web page.

Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google groups) are commonly used Internet-based media that allow people with similar interests to find, interact, and share ideas and resources with each other.

For example, an instructor in research methods can create a Facebook group as a way for students to interact and post updates of their research work for others to see. Students can also solicit comments from others and collect survey data online by tapping into the huge number of Facebook members who wish to respond.

Research can also be done with other social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Google groups. Several features in these sites allow an instructor to tailor the sites to the course. For instance, the instructor can restrict access to specified information on a page to certain individuals.

An eye-opening and engaging way to get students to learn another culture in a developmental psychology course is to create a Facebook community page designed around cross-national differences in childrearing practices.

Twitter is a microbloging technology that allows one to send and receive messages, usually through some mobile device, in which each message (or tweet) is no more than 140 characters. In addition to text, Twitter can now contain embedded photos, videos, and other media. A day or two prior to each class session, the instructor can send students a "tweet” such as a brief description of a current world event related to the topic to be discussed. In a community psychology course, for example, tweet to students, "Hurricane destroys homes in Haiti! What can psychologists do to help the community affected by this disaster?” Presumably, this will prompt students to think about the topic prior to class and be prepared to share their thoughts in the context of other cultures or countries.

Skype and YouTube
Using Skype for videoconferencing or showing talks or interviews that have been recorded on YouTube can be an interesting student project. Guest experts from other countries may wish to show relevant locations or some psychosocial phenomenon in another country. For example, in a History of Psychology course, instructors may use Skype or even record interviews of other psychologists, go on a virtual tour of a historical location relevant to psychology, or perhaps show a collection of psychology paraphernalia that are part of an archival collection of psychology instruments. Using Skype may even allow students to interact with the guest. Recorded footage made available on YouTube can be used for future class discussions and presentations.

In another example, a comparative study in a cross-cultural psychology course could require students to virtually observe the family dynamics in different cultures and directly inquire about the participants’ points of view through video clips posted on YouTube. Subsequently, students could organize all information online to share for discussion.

By using these technologies, instructors can archive correspondences and make them available for future instructional use. The rising use of Internet-based technologies is opening new avenues for teaching international materials (Takooshian & Velayo, 2004; Velayo, Oliva, & Blank, 2008). These technologies contribute to the growing number of resources that instructors may use for course development. Such resource clearinghouses may be accessed through the APA Division of International Psychology website (e.g., Stevens, 2007) and from APA’s Society for the Teaching of Psychology Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP, e.g., Woolf, Hulsizer, & McCarthy, 2002a, 2002b).

A Way to Assess If a Psychology Course is Internationalized
A report from the APA Working Group on Internationalizing the Psychology Curriculum (Lutsky, Torney-Purta, Velayo, Whittlesey, Woolf, & McCarthy, 2005) may be used to assess the extent to which a psychology course is "internationalized.” The authors of the report recommended five goals and associated learning outcomes: psychological knowledge in international perspective; methodological issues in international research; the discipline of psychology in the international perspective (i.e., awareness of how the discipline of psychology is developed, studied, and applied in and across cultures); psychology and interpersonal understanding; and psychology and global issues. The report also provides suggested student learning outcomes for each goal to assist with course design and for use as a checklist to assess the effectiveness of the strategies at the end of the course.

Innovative ways to utilize social media technologies as pedagogical and training tools need to be further explored. Not only do these technologies allow for greater and faster communication between psychologists and students residing in different nations and different regions within a country but they also provide for greater cross-national understanding, increased curricular and scholarly collaborations, and enhanced level of experience that goes beyond just reading about another culture. Such transformation necessitates changes to the broader psychology curriculum and requires assessment on a regular basis to determine whether students have sufficiently obtained a level of international perspective and knowledge base.

There is no doubt that currently used and emerging internet-based technologies shall continue to contribute significantly to the globalization of psychology, in general, and the psychology curriculum in particular.

Grenwald-Mayes, G., & Moore, M. (2000, Fall). Internationalizing curriculum and pedagogy in the behavioral and social sciences. Perspectives, 3, Article 11. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from

Lutsky, N., Torney-Purta, J., Velayo, R., Whittlesey, V., Woolf, L., & McCarthy, M. (2005).American Psychological Association task force on internationalizing the undergraduate psychology curriculum: Report and recommended learning outcomes for internationalizing the undergraduate curriculum. Retrieved November 5, 2010, from

Power, F., & Velayo, R. (2006, Winter). Hello world!: The case for internationalizing the psychology curriculum. International Psychology Reporter, 10(1), 10-11.

Takooshian, H., & Velayo, R. (2004, Spring). Internationalizing our psychology curriculum.Newsletter of the Society for Teaching of Psychology, 8-9.

Velayo, R. (2000, Winter). The globalization of psychology via the Internet: Anticipating the not-too-distant future. International Psychology Reporter, 4(1), 18-19.

Velayo, R., Oliva, J., and Blank, D. (2008, Winter). Using the Internet: A call to internationalize the psychology curriculum. International Psychology Bulletin, 12(1), 22-26.

Wankel, C. (2010). Technologies that bring learners collaboratively together with the world. In C. Wankel (Ed). Cutting-Edge media approaches to business education: Teaching with Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and Blogs (pp. 1-5).Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Woolf, L. M., Hulsizer, M. R., & McCarthy, T. (2002a). International psychology: A compendium of textbooks for selected courses evaluated for international content. Retrieved November 5, 2010, from OTRP-Online, Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology, Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site:

Woolf, L. M., Hulsizer, M. R., & McCarthy, T. (2002b). International psychology: Annotated bibliography, relevant organizations, and course suggestions. Retrieved July 18, 2010 from OTRP-Online, Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology, Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site:

Richard Velayo, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Pace University. He received his PhD in education and psychology (combined program) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His scholarly interests include the pedagogical application of multimedia and internet-based technologies, instructional psychology, and the internationalization of the psychology curriculum. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Eastern Psychological Association. Rich is a past-president and current webmaster for the APA Division of International Psychology, pastpresident of the Academic Division of the New York State Psychological Association, past-chair of the Psychology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences, NGO representative to the United Nations for the International Council of Psychologists, and a member of the Eastern Regional Psi Chi Steering Committee. He has published in several journals and presented in numerous local, regional, national, and international conferences. You can contact Rich at

Copyright 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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