Science communication is still a relatively young and sometimes misunderstood discipline. As a result, many new students have trouble conceptualizing the field and where they fit within the intellectual community. Internet blogs are known to be a useful teaching tool at universities as they increase student interaction and expose students to a diversity of opinions. Most research has so far looked at individual student blogs, although class blogs have potential to encourage a greater sense of community amongst students.
 
We introduced class blogging assignments to four different science communication units in 2010 and 2011, with 122 students in total. The assignments required students to read scholarly literature or listen to/ watch appropriate material related to the unit and to write a short post. Student impressions about the blog assignments were evaluated using quantitative surveys, qualitative feedback and website metrics.
 
Overall, students felt that the blog increased meaningful intellectual exchange. On average, students received feedback from four others on their post and most found that these comments were helpful. Knowing that their peers would read their post also motivated them to write better. Students were less motivated by knowing that the blogs were freely available to the general public, although the general public is clearly reading the blogs. Each of the blogs received over 2000 views during the semester and continue to receive visitors after the semester ends, even though students have stopped posting.
 
Class blogs can be a powerful learning tool and help create a sense of intellectual community amongst science communication students. If using public blogs, students and teaching staff need to be aware that the blogs will be read by people outside the class. This presents opportunities to promote the field of science communication.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Creating a community of learners
Class blogs as a teaching tool in science communication

Miriam Sullivan   The University of Western Australia

Nancy Longnecker   The University of Western Australia

 
Science communication is still a relatively young and sometimes misunderstood discipline. As a result, many new students have trouble conceptualizing the field and where they fit within the intellectual community. Internet blogs are known to be a useful teaching tool at universities as they increase student interaction and expose students to a diversity of opinions. Most research has so far looked at individual student blogs, although class blogs have potential to encourage a greater sense of community amongst students.
 
We introduced class blogging assignments to four different science communication units in 2010 and 2011, with 122 students in total. The assignments required students to read scholarly literature or listen to/ watch appropriate material related to the unit and to write a short post. Student impressions about the blog assignments were evaluated using quantitative surveys, qualitative feedback and website metrics.
 
Overall, students felt that the blog increased meaningful intellectual exchange. On average, students received feedback from four others on their post and most found that these comments were helpful. Knowing that their peers would read their post also motivated them to write better. Students were less motivated by knowing that the blogs were freely available to the general public, although the general public is clearly reading the blogs. Each of the blogs received over 2000 views during the semester and continue to receive visitors after the semester ends, even though students have stopped posting.
 
Class blogs can be a powerful learning tool and help create a sense of intellectual community amongst science communication students. If using public blogs, students and teaching staff need to be aware that the blogs will be read by people outside the class. This presents opportunities to promote the field of science communication.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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