Students Blog to Learn at “Mind the Science Gap”

While updating one of our online courses this past week I suggested to the professor a ‘blog activity’ where  the student would use the blog feature within the learning management system we use (Moodle). The student will ‘blog’ about his or her text-book reading assignment each week, recording his or her thoughts, impressions and questions. By thinking about the reading, not simply summarizing, the idea is that the student will have the opportunity for deeper thought and reflection, thus encouraging critical thinking skills.

Screen Shot: Ming the Science Gap BlogStudent Blogging in the Big Leagues
Coincidently, that night I read a post on one of the blogs I follow where the blogger, a professor at a university, was launching a blogging assignment for his students that goes exponentially beyond what I had worked on that day! It is quite brilliant actually, Master’s degree students in a Public Health program will write public blog posts aimed at the non-expert community member about an emerging area of scientific interest weekly, for ten weeks. The professor requested that his blog readers consider being a mentor, by giving feedback on a weekly basis to one of the ten students. The prof even outlined the mentor guidelines.

Purpose
The blog, Mind The Science Gap will use the medium of science blogging to develop effective communication skills by giving students the opportunity to develop their skills by interacting with members of the community – perfect training for students in a Public Health program! It also includes all the components necessary to support student success –  including  guidelines for mentors when giving feedback.

Mind the Science Gap and the blogging exercise I mentioned earlier are examples of how technological applications, in this case a BLOGGING tool, can be applied and used in an educational environment to create applicable and challenging learning assignments. This is an example of using educational technology effectively, creating relevant learning exercises, where tools are used to support targeted learning objectives. I’ll be following Mind the Science Gap for the 10 weeks, and will post progress and observations along the way… check back.

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