transparent curriculum

The Unwritten Rules of College

a grass-roots assessment project of 25,000 students at 27 institutions in seven countries. Results showed that a simple approach can yield big results. Making the process of teaching and learning explicit to students — especially those who don’t know what to expect

Professors who have signed on to the project consider three questions when creating assignments: what, exactly, they’re asking students to do (the “task”); why students have to do it (the “purpose”); and how the work will be evaluated (the “criteria”).

social media and critical thinking

Does social media make room for critical thinking?

social media critical thinking

social media critical thinking

Sinprakob, S., & Songkram, N. (2015). A Proposed Model of Problem-based Learning on Social Media in Cooperation with Searching Technique to Enhance Critical Thinking of Undergraduate Students. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 174(International Conference on New Horizons in Education, INTE 2014, 25-27 June 2014, Paris, France), 2027-2030. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.871

Bailey, A. (2014). Teaching Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: Using Technology and Social Media To Foster Critical Thinking and Reflection. Virginia English Journal, 64(1), 17.

Eales-Reynolds, L., Gillham, D., Grech, C., Clarke, C., & Cornell, J. (2012). A study of the development of critical thinking skills using an innovative web 2.0 tool. Nurse Education Today, 32(7), 752-756. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.05.017

Baldino, S. (2014). The Classroom Blog: Enhancing Critical Thinking, Substantive Discussion, and Appropriate Online Interaction. Voices From The Middle, 22(2), 29.

Ravenscroft, A., Warburton, S., Hatzipanagos, S., & Conole, G. (2012). Designing and evaluating social media for learning: shaping social networking into social learning?. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(3), 177-182. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00484.x

finding ways to capture meaningful informal learning experiences by explicitly linking these to formal structures, and providing frameworks within which informal learning can then be validated and accredited (Cedefop Report 2007).

Education is clearly a social process but it is probably much closer to an ongoing discussion or debate than an extended celebration with an ever-expanding network of friends (p. 179, Ravenscroft et al.)

the community of inquiry (COI) model developed by Garrison and Anderson (2003) and social network analysis (SNA). European Commission-funded integrated

project called MATURE (Continuous Social Learning in Knowledge Networks), which is investigating how technology-mediated informal learning leads to improved knowledge practices in the digital workplace
Fitzgibbons, M. (2014). Teaching political science students to find and evaluate information in the social media flow. In I. Management Association, STEM education: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from
Cheung, C. (2010). Web 2.0: Challenges and Opportunities for Media Education and Beyond. E-Learning And Digital Media, 7(4), 328-337.
Key to using social media is the ability to stand back and evaluate the credibility of a source of information, apart from the actual content. While developing this critical attitude toward traditional media is important, the attitude is even more crucial in the context of using social media because information didn’t go through the vetting process of formal publication. Can the student corroborate the information from multiple sources? How recent is this information? Are the author’s credentials appropriate? In other words, the ability to step back, to become aware of the metatext or metacontext is more important than ever.
Coad, D. T. (2013). Developing Critical Literacy and Critical Thinking through Facebook. Kairos: A Journal Of Rhetoric, Technology, And Pedagogy, 18(1).
Many instructors believe that writing on social networking sites undermines the rhetorical skills students learn in class because of the slang and abbreviations often used on these sites; such instructors may believe that social networks are the end of students’ critical awareness when they communicate. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber (2009) contended that electronic writing forms actually require “sophisticated skills of understanding concrete rhetorical situations, analyzing audiences (and their goals and inclinations), and constructing concise, information-laden texts, as a part of a dynamic, unfolding, social process” (p. 18). It is this dynamic process that makes social networking a perfect match for the composition classroom and for teaching rhetorical skills: It helps students see how communication works in real, live rhetorical situations. Many students do not believe that communication in these media requires any kind of valuable literacy skills because they buy into the myth of how the news media portray social networks as valueless forms of communication that are decaying young people’s minds. This is why I introduced students to the passage from Invisible Man: to get them thinking about what kinds of skills they learn on Facebook. I found the text useful for helping them acknowledge the skills they are building in these writing spaces.
Stuart A. Selber (2004) in Multiliteracies for a Digital Age criticized so-called computer literacy classes for having “focused primarily on data representations, numbering systems, operating systems, file formats, and hardware and software components” rather than on the task of teaching students to be “informed questioners of technology” (p. 74). In a time when, as Sheelah M. Sweeny (2010) noted, “the ability to stay connected with others is constant,” it is increasingly important to engage composition students in critical thinking about the spaces they write in (p. 121). It is becoming clearer, as technology giants such as Google® and Apple® introduce new technologies, that critical literacy and critical thinking about technology are necessary for our students’ futures.
Valentini, C. (2015). Is using social media “good” for the public relations profession? A critical reflection. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 170-177. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.11.009
p. 172 there is no doubt that digital technologies and social media have contributed to a major alteration in people’s interpersonal communications and relational practices. Inter- personal communications have substantially altered, at least in Western and developed countries, as a result of the culture of increased connectivity that has emerged from social media’s engineering sociality ( van Dijck, 2013 ), which allows anyone to be online and to connect to others. Physical presence is no longer a precondition for interpersonal communication.
(Jiping) The Pew Research Center ( Smith & Duggan, 2013 , October 21) indicates that one in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or mobile dating app to seek a partner, and that in the last eight years the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled. Another study conducted by the same organization ( Lenhart & Duggan, 2014 , February 11) shows that 25% of married or partnered adults who text, have texted their partner while they were both home together, that 21% of cell-phone owners or internet users in a committed relationship have felt closer to their spouse or partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message. Another 9% of adults have resolved online or by text message an argument with their partner that they were having difficulty resolving person to person ( Lenhart & Duggan, 2014 , February 11). These results indicate that digital technologies are not simply tools that facilitate communications: they have a substantial impact on the way humans interact and relate to one another. In other words, they affect the dynamics of interpersonal relations

good teaching

New Teacher Advice – ‘Hold On To Your Optimism & Idealism’

Your job is to grow your students to become independent, self-directed learners not for someday in the distant future, but right now. Students deserve to have clarity on the following questions:

  • Why do I have to learn this? What value is it to me?
  • How will I be assessed?
  • How will I be judged?
  • How will I be supported during the learning experience?


big data and student academic performance

Researchers use an app to predict GPA based on smartphone use

Dartmouth College and the University of Texas at Austin have developed an app that tracks smartphone activity to compute a grade point average that’s within 0.17 of a point.

More on Big Data in education in this blog:

Create Goobrics

Using Tech4Learning Rubrics with Goobric, Doctopus, and the Google Classroom

“Tired of Rubistar rubrics?  Want to use Goobric but don’t want to create your own rubric from scratch?  In this episode, learn how to use Tech4Learning’s rubric maker to create excellent rubrics that can be used with Goobric, Doctopus, and Google classroom.  Tech4Learning rubrics offer some great topics for working collaboratively, such as teamwork and cooperation.  The best part is that these rubrics can easily be pasted into a Google spreadsheet for use with Andrew Stillman’s awesome Goobric extension.”

More on rubrics in other IMS blog entries:

The 5 Step Model to Teach Students Critical Thinking Skills

The 5 Step Model to Teach Students Critical Thinking Skills

1- Determine learning objectives
This is the initial phase where you need to identify the behaviours you want your students to exhibit and work on encapsulating these behaviours in an overarching higher order thinking schema.
2-Teach through questioning
The importance of integrating questions into instruction is uncontested. Thought-provoking questions help students explore learning from different perspectives. The art of posing well-formulated questions is regaled by a set of techniques, some of which are included in this wonderful poster: Questions A Critical Thinker Asks.
3-Practice before you assess
This is where hands-on learning activities are called for. To consolidate their understandings and therefore increase the retention rate of information taught, students need to utilize all components of active learning such as simulation, experimentations,rehearsing…etc

4- Review, refine, and improve
Students’ feedback that you can garner either formally or informally constitute the backbone of your teaching procedure. It provides you with insights into areas that students need help with and also informs your teaching objectives and methodology. There are a variety of tools you can use to collect feedback from your students, check out the  8 Practical tools to easily gather students feedback.
5- Provide feedback and assessment of learning
As you need students feedback to help you inform your teaching methodology, students too  need your feedback. They need to learn how they are learning and assess their overall achievement. One way to do this is to provide them with grading rubrics for self-assessment. Here are some other resources to help you provide better feedback to your students:

CRS (clickers) presentation


  • iClickers
    Foster, Steve <> 
  • Top Hat Monocle
    Steve Popovich <>
  • Turning Technologies
    Jordan Ferns <>

presented their products

Presentation is available online