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Using Blogs in Student Projects

:: It is becoming more evident to me that students working in groups can make good use of a blog as a project management tool. Two weeks ago I helped a 4th-year mechanical engineering student create a blog for his design project group (four students). To date, he has uploaded URLs, meeting minutes, patent links, links to companies producing devices related to their project, and more. It's a simple and effective way for the team to stay in contact with each other.

We are experimenting with an onsite reference service in the main engineering building, which began in late September. This afternoon while working in the engineering lab providing reference service, I helped three more students in the same course set up blogs for their design groups as well. We ran into some glitches, but I solved them before I left for the day. Afterwards, I considered how offering blogging assistance to students could consume large amounts of my time both in the lab, and back in my office as well. I want the students to be able to make good use of blogs as a project management tool, and therefore want to ensure that they begin using them properly by giving good instruction from the outset.

The logical step: for the University of Alberta to make the creation of blogs a one-step process by offering such a service to its students and staff. It's happening already at Harvard and MIT.

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