Starting young: getting ecologists to blog

Within the small community of ecologist bloggers much has been of the lack of blogging (and other odd pursuits like twittering) among ecologists (this is, afterall, EEB & Flow‘s raison d’etre), and I recently read over at academHacK that “in the future [academics] can be online or be irrelevant”. So, this semester I did what I could to get some future ecologists blogging. Instead of having traditional writing assignments for my Biogeography course I required students to set up a blog and post at least 3 EEB & Flow style posts about papers they read from the primary literature (I didn’t know about EEB & Flow at the time, but this was/is the spirit of the assignment). The response so far has been very positive and at least a couple of students (mostly of the graduate persuasion) have taken to blogging in a way that suggests to me that they’ll do this again in the future (i.e., they’ve already posted more posts than required even though they already know that they’ve locked down an A).

In my broader experience with introducing ecologists to new technology it’s really all about exposing folks to the potential of the new approach. Once they’ve seen the potential of something ecologists tend to embrace it pretty quickly. So, start your students young. Show them how easy it is to set up a blog, get them posting a little, and maybe soon we’ll all be clammering to be heard above crowd.

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