I am a Professor and Chair of Biology at Ashland University where I teach anatomy and physiology, evolution, marine and vertebrate biology. My NIH-funded laboratory research into the evolution and function of vertebrate eye lens proteins is done with undergraduate students. I am also interested in teaching technology, science communication and the use of social media.

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Blogging in the college classroom.

I’ve been reading a number of reports from the recent ScienceOnline 09 science blogging conference in Raleigh, NC.  The Southern Fried Scientist and Anne-Marie from pondering pikaia have some nice write-ups from the sessions they attended.  What caught my attention most was a session titled Teaching College Science: Blogs and Beyond.  I am teaching my department’s senior capstone biology seminar this semester for the first time, and am focusing on science writing as a central theme.  I started this blog, my first, back in September and have become totally absorbed with the science blogging community.  I also have a strong interest in playing with different teaching technologies.  So for this capstone course I decided to merge the two.  My students are starting their own science blogs in groups of three or four to develop skills in communicating science.  I hope that this will also facilitate discussion of what a well-trained biologists should know – another central them of the course.

You can follow along with this experiment at our central course blog.  My students will have their blogs up later this week, so check back to see our progress.

7 comments to Blogging in the college classroom.

  • I teach 2 courses (grad-level), and I’ve used blogs a bit differently in each. For my spring course last year, I had each student write 2 posts–short essays delving deeper into the theme of the course–that I posted up on my blog. For my fall course, I maintained a class blog where students posted homework assignments, which we then discussed in class. I think both went pretty well and reinforced the importance of clear writing in the science profession. Hope your class enjoys the experience!

  • I’m glad I stumbled upon your site!

    I was actually at that conference as well, and I got alot from the education blog section.

    I am an adjunct professor/researcher, but I’ve yet to actually implement a blog in a course yet. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out here to hear how it turns out for you.

    Consider yourself blogrolled here.

  • @ Irradiatus – Thanks for the comment and the blogroll. Same back at you.

    I was not actually at the conference but enjoyed reading about the sessions. I plan to post more soon about my students’ blogs, which are going quite well. They have generated some good comment thread discussions, and have attracted the attention of some other bloggers. Please check them out and grace the students with a comment.

  • @ Tara – Thanks for letting me know about your experiences. I have had my students go all in on these blogs. They have five going, with three or four students contributing to each as a team. Some blogs have themes, and others are a mix of topics. There are some great posts up there, and they have generated some great discussion about science writing. I will be curious to see if the excitement is maintained throughout the semester.

  • [...] whose sense of Internet omnisciency makes my own pale in comparison. Bora has been following an experiment of sorts by Mason Posner, a professor of biology at Ashland University in Ohio, in which Posner [...]

  • [...] this past year has been filled with blogging.  I currently post actively to four blogs, and as I wrote about a year ago, I have started using blogs as teaching tools in my courses.  I am now teaching my [...]

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