Intentional and Transparent

Those of you who have been paying attention have noticed an addition to the blogroll on the right side of your screen: KQED’s Mind/Shift. The Mind/Shift website, referenced previously by me on the subject of technology, has a tremendous amount of news about innovations in K-12 schools, much of which directly applies to post-secondary education.

Invisible ManSeveral Mind/Shift articles echo what Simon and I have recently written about transparency enabling students to become more intentional about their learning. A simple example: if the implicit goal of a high school’s curriculum is to prepare students for success in college, then it makes sense for students to explicitly demonstrate their readiness for college with a portfolio of work on the subject and a defense of that portfolio before graduating from high school.

Transparency should not be limited to a single linear relationship between teacher and student — teachers telling students “this is why I expect you to do X.” Transparency also means greater collaboration and accountability among the teachers themselves. Opening up the black box of what happens in an instructor’s classroom makes everyone aware of what works and what doesn’t, enabling everyone to get better at what they do. In the end, students learn more.

What I find baffling is the lack of transparency among many university faculty about what they do and why they think what they do is effective. When was the last time you shared syllabi with colleagues and talked about what is and isn’t working in your classroom?