Friday, June 19, 2009

Social Media's Possible Effects on Assessment, College Admissions, Identity, and Critical Thinking

Engaging discussion this afternoon at the Friday Chat. The topic of discussion concerned the ways in which social media will have an effect on assessment. Going back over the transcript of the chat, three things really struck out at me.

The first was how social media could effect college admissions -- and not in the sense of colleges looking for pictures from high school parties, but from the perspective of how a four-year social media portfolio might demonstrate more about the student's academic, intellectual, and creative capacities than a list of scores on exams ever could.

Second, we discussed the connections between authentic assessment and identity. I discussed this in a post yesterday and have had a lot of conversations about it today. I think it's one to give some real thought to, especially as we see the role of social media becoming more ubiquitous in all aspects of life.

Finally, we had an interesting talk about 'Critical Mass' as a teaching and assessment tool. I am fascinated by the possibilities of using Twitterfall and other forms of real-time search to facilitate critical thinking.

Here are clips from the chat:

On social media, assessment, and college admissions:
I agree w/ critical mass assessment. For a bottom-line oriented community, though, pointing toward a corpus of work might create conflicts. as in -- "this isn't did you come up with these grades?" Sadly, more earnest assessment isn't always easy to explain. Nate at 3:25 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

I think that's changing. I think the final push will be when colleges completely stop accepting AP scores and move to student portfolios. Shelly at 3:26 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

As a result, I think teachers then create assessments that are retrograde b/c those structures are easy to perceive as being authoritative. Nate at 3:27 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

'Authority' is on the way out. Shelly at 3:27 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

I hope it's changing. Unfortunately, secondary schools w/ more clout w/ colleges are perhaps more able to take these kinds of risks. I'll have to ask some of my friends in college counseling how they perceive these types of portfolios. Nate at 3:27 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

The 'clout' issue... I think there may be a subtext there with regard to grade inflation. Shelly at 3:29 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

It'd be great if students could include on their college application a blog that they've curated for four years and shows intell. growth. Nate at 3:29 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Admissions Counselors are savvy. They know what those scores mean. I think admissions wd prefer four-year portfolios. Shelly at 3:30 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

can you expand on what that subtext of grade inflation is? Nate at 3:30 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

And once they put the muscle of scholarship and financial aid money behind it: watch out! Goodnight AP exams. Shelly at 3:30 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

that'd be great. I think the CB tests do emphasize some important intell. skills, but the institution is just out to make $. Nate at 3:31 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

A friend told me a story that when he first came to this country from afar as a teacher, he was giving lot's of low-Bs as his highest grades Shelly at 3:32 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Pandemonium ensued. Shelly at 3:32 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

That's the subtext of grade inflation. Shelly at 3:32 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

yeah, the issue of grade inflation is rampant at my school presently. Demographic fears (e.g. a top 10% policy) has created a ground-swell movement for higher grades across the board believing that will help. Nate at 3:33 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Universities, more than ever before, are international. What do you think is going to happen to US students w/o changes in assessment? Shelly at 3:33 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

On the connections between authentic assessment and identity:
I also think that social media and blogging is a good way for students to really distinguish themselves and create a clear identity. Nate at 3:35 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

The 'identity of intellect'. Pappas wrote about this yesterday; I did a follow-up. Absolutely vital to student success. Shelly at 3:36 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

beyond assessment, I think social media helps clearly communicate that the teacher is also simultaneously learning from the students. Nate at 3:38 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Students need to be connected to and validate one another; that's a successful society. Can't just be looking for approval from top. Shelly at 3:38 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

and that community-construction helps foster an 'identity of intellect' that you mentioned. Nate at 3:39 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Recognition of teacher learning is a form of good modeling. In seeking information and analyzing info, we model intellect. Shelly at 3:39 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Using Twitterfall in assessments to teach critical thinking:
how do you articulate the concept of "critical mass" to students? It seems a rather nebulous idea. Do you outline it on your syllabus? Nate at 3:42 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

We look at it in the 'real-world' and discuss what it means. Twitterfall is hands-down the best example for the kids. And the fun thing about Twitterfall is that it can be anything from the silliness of celebrity to the seriousness of warzone events. Shelly at 3:44 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

interesting idea about using Twitterfall to see meaningful vs. non- or less-meaningful postings, thoughts, etc. Nate at 3:44 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Exactly. All a matter of being able to evaluate good writing and validate or invalidate sources. Shelly at 3:45 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

that's also a great idea for teaching students to read for POV/perspective; how to understand bias and pay attention to the source's origin. Nate at 3:46 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

Heck, I can tell you this: teaching bias via Twitterfall makes teaching Caesar and Augustus a piece-of-cake. Shelly at 3:47 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web

yes, primary sources are opaque for students w/out contrasting it with contemporary primary sources--the bias, context, etc. students know. Nate at 3:49 PM, 19 Jun 2009 via web


  1. Thanks again for the chat this afternoon, and I certainly hope you didn't take too much offense to my "AWOL" characterization -- I'll cut you some slack knowing that you were battling against a labyrintine bureaucracy.

    In any event, I was also in the midst of writing a summary of the Today's Meet chat when I saw you posted yours, yet I soldiered on and posted nevertheless.

    I'll be looking forward to next week's chat.



  2. Nate,

    Next week we race.


  3. How do college admissions officers know the authenticity and validity of these "digital" portfolios. How do I know who the work is from?


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