INTEGRATING A BLOG ACTIVITY INTO A MICROBIOLOGY COURSE: SHARING EXPERIENCES
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Our Microbiology course is a 10-week course consisting of lectures and laboratory classes in the third year of graduate studies offered at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. We have always engaged our students in their own learning process through different activities intended to promote active learning, approaching the student to the reality of our course. With the same spirit of finding new ways to incite students in the learning process, we have undertaken a new activity, a blog, as a new learning support.
We considered that implementing a blog would be an appropriate channel of communication and learning for our course that would facilitate the development of the following competences: 1) to promote critical and reflective thinking by engaging students in debates and dialogue about topics related to the Microbiology course that directly impact on society, 2) to encourage participation and collaborative work among students, 3) to increase the student’s writing skills through writing scientific essays and student’s ability to defend their opinions on a certain argument.
At the beginning of the course the activity was presented and explained to the students as intended to be a channel of debate about aspects related to the course contextualized into social reality. To perform the activity all students of the course were required to organize themselves into groups, namely 6 working groups of 10 students each. Students were allowed to choose their own group mates, which would be the same throughout the whole activity. The topics to be posted were presented in class by the teacher. Every two weeks, two groups were requested to publish their research work on the blog. The rest of the students were asked to read both articles and individually comment on one of them.
The criteria for assessing the research articles were that they be a thoughtful and articulate reflection in a communicable scientific paper of about 1000 words in length. The purpose, contents and structure of the essay as well as good quality literature search were evaluated. The conclusions of the article must provide a clear opinion on the matter and substantiated by the literature enclosed. In the articles, inclusion of links, video and other on-line resources were favored. As for student’s comments, they were expected to be meaningful and synthetic; novel contributions were also considered. Comments must integrate how they felt and thought about the issues published in a paragraph of about 70 words in length.
The blog activity was given a 10% of the total course mark. Both the research article and individual comments were given a unit score of 0.5 each out of a maximum of 1. Each research article was corrected after posting and the corrections were explained and discussed with the members of each group individually. After each session of blogs entries and subsequent comments, a summary of the more relevant aspects of the published works and comments were discussed in class.
Most research articles conceived by the students were thoroughly researched, structured and with good use of online resources. The blog survey reported an excellent degree of satisfaction with the blogging experience among participants. Integrating a blog activity in the Microbiology course has allowed our students to move forward in their critical thinking, has encouraged them to display their own opinions, has promoted their active learning, and has increased their interest in our course.
Keywords: blog, active learning, microbiology, critical thinking, participation, collaborative work.