You would think that no new posts in four months would mean that blogging was far from my mind. But oh how wrong you would be. I have written before about the blogs I started for my marine bio course and senior capstone course on science communication. The marine blog in particular was primarily student generated, and last spring I played around with guidelines that would encourage students to find interesting additional content that was relevant to the course. I was impressed with my students’ contributions, and really enjoyed some final posts about our field trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But almost all of the posts about recent marine bio research came from stories on the Science Daily website. They were interesting, but I was hoping that students would draw from more diverse sources and some primary literature.
So this Fall semester I developed some new guidelines for students to use when writing for our latest course blog, Ashland Vertebrate Biology. Those guidelines were posted as a Google Doc if you would like to check them out (look for a future post about the many ways to use Google Docs in a class). They seemed to do the trick, encouraging students to draw from more diverse sources and even stimulated a good level of discussion in the comment threads. I have not yet seen my course evaluations for the semester to learn what students thought of the blogging, but will comment on them here soon.
Like any new teaching technology I have found that my approach to using blogs in my classes needs fine-tuning. But so far it has been an excellent way for students to bring their own content to the course and drive discussion.