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Engineering Students and Weblogs

:: I've written previously about working with engineering design students (in mechanical, chemical, materials engineering classes) by helping them create weblogs to use for project management. The students are working in groups of four, and I've helped a number of groups set up weblogs for this purpose. My campus doesn't yet support weblogs as a teaching tool, so each one must be set up individually.

The process I developed was somewhat tedious, involving setting up a blog on Blogger, moving it to the U of A server on one of the students' accounts, and then showing them how to uploaded documents, create posts, etc. Rewarding work, despite the time consumption.

Yesterday I heard from one of the students who noted that their group could no longer get to their blog, as the URL seemed to have changed from http to https. A bit of investigation revealed that the campus servers had been upgraded, and if anyone's site was password protected, the URL would change as such. The solution seemed to be straightforward: go in to the Settings in the Blogger account for each blog to which I had added the .htaccess file, and change the URL to https. Problem is, the Blogger Settings will not accept the change. Type in https, click Save, and it returns to http.

This left two options: delete the .htaccess file, thus removing password protection, or leave as is, and each time a group member goes to the blog or tries to open a document or ppt presentation within, live with the error page that returns on the click, and then go to the https version of the URL.

This is a small example of the problems we can encounter when working with students to set up blogs for project management, and one's institution doesn't support the software. Hopefully this will change sometime soon.

I can report that despite any minor roadblocks such as this, the groups using blogs are doing a great job, and finding the blog to be a worthwhile tool for engineering design project management.

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