Blog Experiences in a Hazardous Semester

I used UMW Blogs in GEOG 240 (Natural Hazards) and in FSEM 100B9 (Water Resources) during Spring 2010. Students could earn up 10% of their grade by posting or commenting on at least ten current events relevant to class prior to a deadline in late April. Despite most students earning all available points, the success of each blog was wildly different. One was highly relevant to class, with frequent posts and comments, photographs, videos covering local and international events; the other was largely irrelevant, only really active as the deadline for addition of material drew near. I believe this was a reflection of both the course material and participants—and perhaps this particular semester. The Hazards blog worked really well as a parallel ‘conversation’ running alongside our normal class; the FSEM blog was mostly extraneous. Here I will discuss what did and didn’t work, and why.