Improving the Quality of Our Classroom Discussions

Think about how we assign readings and discussion questions.
Let me exaggerate (am I?) and say that we engineer the amount of reading based on a reading rate of words per minute, and convert that into pages, and then assign "x" number of pages.
We select readings that "surround" the answer we want the students to "find", and then we check in the classroom to see if the kids found the Easter eggs we hid in a safe part of the yard.
Is that a procedure that will "reliably" encourage the development of critical and creative thinking?
Why would we think that?
What a graduate school give the students an interesting question and ask them to return in "x" days, with an argument, researched, reflected upon, and presented as an entry into discourse?
Would a grad school confine the students to a sterile, preordained pasture of safe answers, with well worn paths and school solutions?
As responsible, innovative graduate school teachers, we should prohibit 1/4 of the class, on a rotating basis, from reading the "assigned" reading, and simply turn them loose to find what they will find; their job is to come back with something interesting and report it, with their reflections, in an interesting way; justifying why it is of interest to their peers, and defending their claims.
Whenever I have tried this approach, it has always been an eye and mind opening experience, but rarely predictable.
It places an extra burden on the professor, to be very widely read and skilled in the arts of collaborative learning in discursive knowledge creation.
It means you have to be open to the possibility of going places in the classroom that you hadn't planned on but which seem right in the moment.
It requires you to conduct thorough after action analysis of what actually occurred in the classroom to determine if your educational outcomes have been achieved.

Impact of Social Media on Society

"Do you have Facebook?"
"Yes, of course. But I don't think you can find me, as there are too many people who have the same name as me. Try searching with my surname as well."
"Hey, you celebrated your birthday in K-Box, right? I saw the photos in your Facebook."
"Bro, I saw your comments about the YouTube video that I've posted in my blog. I'm happy that you are also deeply moved by the 'Dancing Peacock Man' as well."
Social media or "social networking" has almost become part of our daily lives and being tossed around over the past few years. It is like any other media such as newspaper, radio and television but it is far more than just about sharing information and ideas. Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Blogs have facilitated creation and exchange of ideas so quickly and widely than the conventional media. The power of define and control a brand is shifting from corporations and institutions to individuals and communities. It is no longer on the 5Cs (e.g. condominium, credit cards and car) that Singaporeans once talked about. Today, it is about the brand new Cs: creativity, communication, connection, creation (of new ideas and products), community (of shared interests), collaboration and (changing the game of) competition.
In January 2010, InSites Consulting has conducted an online survey with 2,884 consumers from over 14 countries between the ages of 18 to 55 years old on social networking. More than 90% of participants know at least 1 social networking site and 72% of participants are members of at least 1 social networking site. On the average, people have about 195 friends and they log in twice a day to social networking sites. However, 55% of the users cannot access their social network websites at work. In the past, not many adults were able to make more than 500 friends, but with social media, even a child or teenager can get to know more than 500 people in a few days by just clicking the mouse. Social media has devalued the traditional definition of "friend" where it means trust, support, compatible values, etc. Although we get to know more people, we are not able to build strong bond with all the people whom we met as our available time is limited. Hence, there is an upcoming social trend of people with wider social circles, but weaker ties (people we don't know very well but who provide us with useful information and ideas).
Social media also influences people's buying behaviours. Digital Influence Group reported that 91% of the people say consumer reviews are the #1 aid to buying decisions and 87% trust a friend's recommendation over critic's review. It is thrice more likely to trust peer opinions over advertising for purchasing decisions. 1 word-of-mouth conversation has an impact of 200 TV ads. With the prevalence use of social media, there is numerous news related to it from the most viewed YouTube video on "Armless pianist wins 'China's Got Talent'" to Web-assisted suicide cases (e.g. New Jersey college student who killed himself after video of him in a sexual encounter with another man was posted online). Thus, does social networking make us better or worse off as a society?
Positive Effects of Social Media
Besides having opportunity to know a lot of people in a fast and easy way, social media also helped teenagers who have social or physical mobility restrictions to build and maintain relationships with their friends and families. Children who go overseas to study can still stay in meaningful contact with their parents. To a greater extend, there is anecdotal evidence of positive outcomes from these technologies.
In 2008, President-elected Obama won the election through the effective use of social media to reach millions of audience or voters. The Obama campaign had generated and distributed huge amount of contents and messages across email, SMS, social media platforms and their websites. Obama and his campaign team fully understood the fundamental social need that everyone shares - the need of being "who we are". Therefore, the campaign sent the message as "Because It's about YOU" and chose the right form of media to connect with individuals, call for actions and create community for a social movement. They encouraged citizens to share their voices, hold discussion parties in houses and run their own campaign meetings. It truly changed the delivery of political message.
Obama campaign had made 5 million "friends" on more than 15 social networking sites (3 million friends on Facebook itself) and posted nearly 2,000 YouTube videos which were watched over 80 million times. At its peak, their website,, had 8.5 million monthly visitors and produced 400,000 blog posts. In order to ensure that their contents were found by people, the Obama campaign spent $3.5 million on Google search in October alone, $600,000 on, $467,000 on Facebook in 2008, etc. Currently, Obama's Twitter account has close to 6 million followers.
In 2010, after the earthquake happened in Haiti, many of the official communication lines were down. The rest of the world was not able to grasp the full picture of the situation there. To facilitate the sharing of information and make up for the lack of information, social media came in very handy to report the news about the affected area on what happened and what help was needed. Tweets from many people provided an impressive overview of the ongoing events from the earthquake. BBC covered the event by combining tweets from the work of its reporter Matthew Price in Port-au-Prince at the ground. Guardian's live blog also used social media together with the information from other news organisations to report about the rescue mission.
It has been two years since CNN officially launched iReport as a section of its website where people can upload video material, with contact information. During the Haiti crisis, CNN had published a range of social media material but not all the materials were verified. The editorial staff would vet the reports from the citizen journalists and labeled them differently compared to unverified contents. On Facebook, a group, named "Earthquake Haiti", was formed to show support and share updates and news. It had more than 14,000 members and some users even pleaded for assistance to the injured Haitians in the group. Using email, Twitter and social networking sites like Facebook, thousands of volunteers as part of Project Ushahidi were able to map reports sent by people from Haiti.
The most impressive part of the social media's impact on Haiti is the charity text-message donations that soared to over $10 million for the victims in Haiti. People interested in helping the victims are encouraged to text, tweet and publicize their support using various social networking sites. The Global Philanthropy Group had also started a campaign to ask wealthy people and celebrities, like Ben Stiller and John Legend to use Twitter and Facebook to encourage others to give to UNICEF. An aid worker, Saundra Schimmelpfennig, allowed the advice from other aid workers and donors to post on her blog regarding to choosing which charitable organisations to support. In the meantime, donors were asking questions in Twitter, Facebook and blogs about their donations and endorsements of their favourite charities. After every crisis, the social media for social cause becomes a more effective medium to spread the word.
Negative Effects of Social Media
There are always two sides of every coin. Social media is just a tool or mean for people to use. It is still up to the users on how to use this tool (just like a knife, can help you to cut food or hurt others). Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center conducted a study on "The Future of Online Socializing" from the highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey consisted of 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The negative effects presented by the respondents included time spent online robs time from important face-to-face relationships; the internet fosters mostly shallow relationships; the act of leveraging the internet to engage in social connection exposes private information; the internet allows people to silo themselves, limiting their exposure to new ideas; and the internet is being used to engender intolerance.
Some respondents also highlighted that there will be development of some new psychological and medical syndromes that will be "variations of depression caused by the lack of meaningful quality relationships", and a "new world society". The term, "Social Networking", has begun to deceive the users to believe they are social creatures. For instance, spending a couple of hours using Farmville and chatting with friends concurrently does not convert into social skills. People become dependent on the technology and forget how to socialise in face-to-face context. The online personality of a person might be totally different from his/her offline character, causing chaos when the two personalities meet. It is apparent in online dating when the couple gets together in face-to-face for the first time. Their written profiles do not clearly represent their real-life characters. It is more enticing for people to type something that others want to hear than saying the truth.
Besides the "friendship", creators of social networking sites and users redefine the term, "privacy" in the Internet as well. The challenge in data privacy is to share data while protecting personally identifiable information. Almost any information posted on social networking sites is permanent. Whenever someone posts pictures or videos on the web, it becomes viral. When the user deletes a video from his/her social network, someone might have kept it and then posted it onto other sites like YouTube already. People post photographs and video files on social networking sites without thinking and the files can reappear at the worst possible time. In 2008, a video of a group of ACJC students hazing a female student in school on her birthday was circulated and another video of a SCDF recruit being "welcomed" (was hosed with water and tarred with shoe polish) to a local fire station made its way online.
Much news has been reported about online privacy breach in Facebook and Facebook is constantly revising their privacy policy and changing their privacy controls for the users. Interestingly, even when users delete their personal information and deactivate their Facebook account, Facebook will still keep that information and will continue to use it for data mining. A reporter asked whether the data will at least be anonymized. The Facebook representative declined to comment.
In the corporate world, human resource managers can access Facebook or MySpace to get to know about a candidate's true colours, especially when job seekers do not set their profiles to private. Research has found that almost half of employers have rejected a potential worker after finding incriminating material on their Facebook pages. Some employers have also checked the candidates' online details in Facebook pages to see if they are lying about their qualifications. Nowadays, younger generations have a complete disregard for their own privacy, opening doors to unwelcome predators or stalkers.

Tips for a Successful College or University Application Essay

Most college application essay questions are designed for college and university faculty members or admissions officers to discover information about you. Therefore, they are your chance to tell colleges about yourself in your own way while answering their specific questions. The initial step to writing an effective college admissions essay is picking the proper topic since you will often have a choice among several possible essay questions. Choose a topic that allows you to give the school the best representation of who you are as an individual. What are your interests? What are your dreams? What's important to you? These are all aspects of the persona about which faculties and admissions officers are enthusiastic. If you do not have a choice and are required to answer a specific set of standard essay questions, you can still use that as an opportunity to put your best foot forward.
Model your admissions essay as may have some of your previous school essays. Start with an outline or graphic organizer (such as a bubble map) to brainstorm the structure, content, and specific details that you want to include in your essay. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and then explain one or two in detail in reference to the question. There are many ways to structure your essay. You could, for example, focus solely on one of your positive attributes that would help convince the admissions officer or committee that you are a student they would want to attend their school. Alternatively, you could choose two or three of your best qualities and devote a paragraph to each. The narrative essay is also a common and helpful format; in the narrative essay, begin with a brief and engaging account about yourself, your personality, and your strengths as a student and person. You may want to relate an event in your life that highlights your creativity, persistence, problem-solving capabilities, or the capacity to help other people.
When composing your essay, highlight your positive qualities as well as detail your accomplishments. (ex. "I volunteered at an animal shelter"). Go the extra mile to show how your pursuits reveal your persona and values. For example- "All my life, I've been particularly passionate about animal welfare and animal rights. While volunteering at the local animal shelter, I was able to put my passion and knowledge about animals into practice." Articulating about your strengths and values provides a much deeper insight into your personal qualities than merely listing a few of your actions.
Finally, proofread and edit your essay. Make sure your writing reads smoothly, clearly, and is free of errors. It is especially important that college admissions essays be written to the very best of your ability because they could determine whether you are admitted into the college of your choice or not. It is to your benefit to send it to a professional editing service, such as, for polishing. Not only would an expert editor check for simple grammar errors, but an editor could also give you beneficial feedback about the content of your essay. A professional editor could even help reduce the number of words in your essay if you have a specific word count requirement. After all, this is your chance to show the school of your choice why they should admit you!
Ms. Todd is an award-winning, full-time professional editor, published writer and marketing consultant whose passion is to help others create a letter-perfect presentation in their writing. Her extensive experience in coaching and management has allowed her to independently consult for numerous international editing services and websites.

Some Tips for Picking Good Essay Topics

As a student, you know that essays and essay topics are a fact of life. In fact, even once you've graduated, you'll still be doing essays on various topics they will just go by a different name: presentations whether they be sales or monthly budgets. That said, if essay writing is really not something you enjoy how can you go about quickly and effectively taking those essay topics that you will do well in? There are always a few key tips that you can use to make this process easier and faster.
One tip for picking good essay topics is to try to pick the ones that you have an interest in. You may wonder how you can do this especially if the classier it is not something that you wanted to take but were required to to fulfill some sort of academic required. However, although you may not be interested in a tight of course, there will be sections of aspects to it that you will automatically gravitate to. So the key here is to essentially follow your heart. If you feel  drawn to a particular topic or series of topics, then that is definitely what you need to write out. The reason for this is that you will find the research process more interesting as well and the writing process will seem to flow better. Rather than picking something that you may not be very interested. This is a sure way to start on the road to procrastination.
Another tip for picking good essay topics is to simply take the list and go off to the library. Of course, you may wonder why I suggest the library when you've got the Internet close at hand. The reason for this is that while the Internet has been a great boon for the dissemination of information and research, there are still things that are not online that you can find it will find interesting. There are books that you may not thought of and resources such as microfiche that are not yet on the Internet into usable form. The other reason for this is to simply see what information is available at your local library first before you start writing. Remember, if you use a combination of local library as well as Internet, you will have more information than you probably know what to do with this will make writing on any one of a number of essay topics that much easier. Just remember, that the ideas that you jot down have to be your own.

Using a Penis Extender to Make Your Penis Larger Naturally

There are many products that claim to enlarge the size of your penis, and one very popular product on the market is penis enlargement pills.
There are better and proven methods that help to make your penis larger naturally. Pills will not do much in terms of enlarging the penis. In fact they do not work the way the advertisements tell you.
Pills do not Work as Advertised
They say taking a pill will greatly add inches to the penis however most pills only contain minerals, vitamins, natural herbs, and sometimes testosterone. As far as the ingredients are concerned none have ever been confirmed to induce penis growth.
The idea of penis enlargement is to increase its capacity to hold more blood, but in order for that to be possible the penis must have enough room to carry it. Pills may help to increase blood flow, but do not do much to grow new tissue.
There are clinical studies to prove that penis extender do help to make your penis larger naturally.
Penis extenders are a safe and proven way to help make your penis larger naturally. There is no question that this is a real means of enlargement. If there is any method that works it is this one.

Practical Tips for Choosing A Great Essay Topic

The growing popularity of the Internet has played a major role in this paradigm shift, due to the fact that papers can now be placed online quickly for the world to see. This growing trend has forced teachers to be more creative in their assignments. In turn, students are now being asked to be more creative in their work as well.
At times, writing a great college essay can be challenging for even the most experienced writers. Below are a few great ideas or topics to help you getting started writing an essay that will please your instructor and help you make the grade.
Do All Your Research Before Writing the Paper
This allows you to write your essay in just one single flow without having to constantly check your references and other outside material. But the majority of your research material should be prepared before the writing process.
Write about your personal values​​. Consider what things you hold dear. Take an inventory of who you are, and what makes you special. It may be friends or family. You may even want to consider using a controversial topic.
Let the reader get to know the real you. A story of personal struggles such as divorce, lack of confidence or overcoming something makes for a fantastic essay.
Don't be afraid of controversy. Using top-news stories is a great way to come up with hot topics that people are interested in. It's a lot easier to write an essay when a lot of information is available. These topics can also excite, enrage, please, or stir up a bunch of other emotions for the reader. Either way, this is a good thing. Skim the news for stories that are creating a buzz, and then center your essay on one of these hot stories. Look at
Brainstorming is a great way to get started on a college essay. Simply sit down and write whatever comes to mind. It's OK to jot and doodle. Just let the ideas come out. Don't forget to read your professors instructions thoroughly and stay within the guidelines.
Do Not Plagiarize
Copying someone else's work is a serious crime in academics so you should always take care to cite your references when making essays or academic papers.
If you are having difficulties in writing essays, do not fret. Most students go through the same troubles. Focus on the pointers above so you will have an easier time creating essays that you will be proud of.

Payday Loans And Making Them Work For You

Taking out a payday loan can help you deal with an emergency financial situation, or it can create one that is worse than it originally was. It can be the perfect solution for you if you fully comprehend the process and what it involves. The following piece offers great advice about payday loans that can help you maximize your experience.
Always calculate the interest and fees to know how much the loan will actually cost you in the end. High interest rates are commonly charged by payday loan companies. In addition to these interest rates, payday debt companies may charge high fees for every loan. These administration fees are often hidden in the small print.
Take some time to explore every option you might have before deciding on a payday debt. Ask your friends and family if they can help you out before you take out a payday loan. Payday debt can end up costing you a lot of money, so only use them as a last resort.
Some payday lenders have systems set up that extend the term of your loan in exchange for fees deducted from your checking account. Most of these do not require any action from you aside from setting it up.
Avoid using a high-interest loan if you have other options available. loans have extremely high interest rates that can have you paying up to 25% of your initial lone. Explore all other avenues before you take out a loan.
Look carefully at your budget before deciding how much to borrow on a loan. Calculate your expenses into the formula and don't forget to keep them in mind throughout. This money needs to remain untouched for borrowing.
Anytime you take advantage of loans, it is important to ensure that your repayment is made promptly. The loan should not roll over at all costs. This keeps your interest and fees to a minimum.
It is important to keep in mind that payday loans are extremely short term. Make sure that you'll have enough cash to repay the payday debt on the due date, which is usually in a couple of weeks. If your payday comes within a week of taking out the loan, you may have longer. Usually, this moves your due date back to your next payday.