DNI chief urged to declassify FBI documents in Seth Rich murder


A lawyer for one of the individuals caught up in the controversy over the still unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee worker Seth Rich in Washington, D.C., in 2016 has written to acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell asking him to declassify federal records in the case.

Source: DNI chief gets urged to declassify FBI documents in Seth Rich murder – WND

Using Transparency in Assignment Design When Teaching Remotely


A Renewed Case for Student Success: Using Transparency in Assignment Design When Teaching Remotely

In response to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, most erstwhile face-to-face and hybrid courses have now transitioned into remotely delivered ones. In these new educational spaces, designing for student success poses some specific challenges, especially because many faculty have had to plan and design to teach remotely at relatively short notice. While instructional designers and technologists are doing their best to help faculty transition to remote teaching during this challenging time, there appears to be relatively little discussion about designing courses for maximizing student success. During these times (perhaps especially now), we need to intentionally design for student success, leveraging tools and pedagogical strategies to support the success of all—especially struggling students.

This may be a good time to review some established pedagogical strategies that can enhance student success, in light of current circumstances. One such strategy is that of transparent assignment design. Initiated under the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (TILT) project, led by Mary-Ann Winkelmes, transparent assignment design is an element of the transparent teaching framework geared to promote college students’ success.

Transparent assignment design is the process of designing assignments so that the process of learning is more explicit for students. In other words, transparent assignments shed light on the assignment’s purpose, task, and criteria. How can transparent assignment design help students who have suddenly become remote learners be successful?

Transparently designed assignments can be especially useful when learners access assignments remotely. In our remote environments, some students may not be able to frequently or consistently communicate with the instructor due to inequitable internet connectivity or other socio-economic barriers. These barriers may have become more salient due to factors like job loss, lack of access to childcare, food insecurity, sickness, or emotional stress caused by social distancing. For these students, the clear and explicit verbiage of a transparently designed assignment’s purpose, task, and criteria may be particularly helpful.

Studies have found that making assignments more transparent helps students navigate their educational work more successfully, increases students’ sense of belonging, and improves retention rates (Winkelmes et al., 2016). While these findings applied to all students, there was a disproportionate positive effect on underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students. These students more often benefited from transparent assignments, or realized greater benefits, than did their peers.

How do you make assignments transparent? To create more transparent assignments, consider the following questions, adapted from resources developed by Mary-Ann Winkelmes:

  1. PURPOSE: Communicate to students what knowledge or skills they will gain from completing the assignment and how that knowledge or skill will be valuable to students.
  • Knowledge
    • What knowledge will students gain from completing the assignment?
    • How does that knowledge relate to other topics in your course or other courses?
    • How will the knowledge be relevant for students in their lives beyond your course or beyond college?
  • Skills
    • What skills will students practice while doing the assignment?
    • How do those skills relate to other contexts or examples where these skills were important, within your course or beyond?
    • How will these skills be valuable to students in their lives beyond your course or beyond college?
  1. TASK: Communicate the steps that students should take to complete the assignment.
  • Are all of the steps needed to complete the assignment laid out clearly? If any steps are implied, consider making them more explicit.
  • What are the common pitfalls that students encounter with this assignment? How can you help them avoid those pitfalls?
  • Are there opportunities for students to get feedback on parts of the assignment before the larger assignment is due? If not, provide such opportunities.
  1. CRITERIA: Well before the assignment is due, share with students the rubrics or checklists that you will use to evaluate their work.
  • Would a rubric or a checklist be most appropriate for evaluating your assignment?
  • If you use a rubric on this assignment, is it written in such a way as to be clear to a student?
  • Are there opportunities for students to evaluate their own work or other student work using the rubric or checklist that you have provided? If not, consider providing such opportunities.

Reviewing and redesigning current assignments with the framework of the transparent assignment design may seem daunting and pose additional challenges to faculty already facing a time- and resource-crunch. Given our context, adoption of this design method can be part of a gradual process of transition. Not all non-transparent assignments in the course need to be redesigned at once. Identify the assignments in your course that students are likely to need additional transparency and start with those. Additional resources and examples of transparent assignments can be found on the website for the Transparency in Learning and Teaching project.

Human person, deep and mysterious for sure prediction


The mystery of the human person, is seen not only in religion. Try to understand the nature of a creature who might become, on one hand, a mass murderer or, on the other, a Mother Teresa who left every comfort to live among dying derelicts.

What is the meaning of a creature that deliberately harms another and then, realizing that fault, turns around and asks for forgiveness, asks that the wrong be undone? On the other side, there is the person who has been wronged. He or she might react with a lifetime of seeking revenge or, alternatively, with total forgiveness. The human person is a creature of laughter and of tears, of astounding intelligence and of willful ignorance.

 Behavioural science in the 20th century maintained that all human actions are predictable.  I thought this must be the most pathetically wrong-headed notion ever. The human person is too deep, too mysterious to be the object of sure predictions.

The Christian belief is that the human person only makes sense in the light of the cross, in the light of redemption in Jesus Christ. There, the paradoxes are heightened still further. But through the paradoxes, it is revealed that our nature is to love. Love is often distorted and sinful; other times, it raises us to a share in glory.

Inspite of these differences in the characters of the human person, we still have to live and work together as family, community and as a people.

Where Is Humanity Headed?


Something has been agitating my mind for sometime and I thought I should voice it out. I am saddened by this coronavirus outbreak. Lots of theories have been propounded on the origin of the virus. That it is a pandemic is no longer debatable.

I am wondering as I had remarked over a week ago, if Dr. Fauci of the U.S. is being economical with the truth on what he knows about the coronavirus outbreak. He made an open statement in 2017 that a virus outbreak of pandemic proportion should be expected in a couple of years, two years (2019). The video on that comment was transmitted widely during the pandemic. He owned it up. He didn’t deny the “prediction”.

Secondly, the American government backed down on continuing with work in the laboratory on the coronavirus way back in 2014. Subsequently the research was moved to the Wuhan laboratory and Dr. Fauci reportedly paid $3.7million tax payer funding for continuation of the research in Wuhan, China. Continuing to fund the research possibly gave Dr. Fauci updates on the research progress, leading to his prediction of virus epidemic outbreak in 2019.

It does appear to me that Dr. Fauci and other Americans who are bent on pushing out Trump, are using the death of Americans as a political weapon to ensure Trump does not get re-elected. My position is informed by the fact that the Democrats and mainstream media in the United States keep harping on “President Trump not taking steps early to prevent Americans from dying”. Jim Acosta of the CNN and other MSM journalists keep harping on that point during most Presidential media briefing.

I have been wondering why the media have deliberately refused researching into and investigating the source of the coronavirus outbreak. They’re not even interested in the World Health Organization’s handling of the information on the epidemic. What is going on? Playing politics with American lives? We keep reading what people write as “President Trump being more concerned with his re-election rather than protecting American lives”. What is really happening?

Comments are welcome from friends and followers of this blog, please. We need robust discussion here. Who knows, we may get enough information for the good of humanity.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10


Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

In 2 Corinthians 9:8-10 Paul continues to explain God’s economy of giving. As we give, we must be persuaded that God is able to reward our giving. Just as God is able to make the sowing of seed abound to a great harvest, so God is able to bless our giving. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Materially, God may bless our giving by promotions with better pay, unexpected gifts of money, or by making things last so we don’t suffer the cost of replacing them. Spiritually, God may bless our giving by freeing our hearts from the tyranny of greed and materialism, by giving us a sense of blessing and happiness, or by storing up rich reward in heaven. God is able to bless…

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