Today we received lots of questions on the comment wall regarding blogging. We did not have time to answer them all in class so we thought it would be helpful if we made a blog post for you to answer some of the questions you might have. In addition to reading this post, we encourage you to also read through the syllabus, as well as the Tech FAQ before writing your first blog of the period. In the post you are about to read, you will find an FAQ-style blog concerning all things blogging. If you have further questions or concerns, please email any of the TAs as we are here to assist you throughout the semester.
How long does a blog have to be and how long will it take me?
As Andrew said in class, 500-700 words is usually sufficient, but you should not be aiming for a word count. Instead, write however much it takes to get your ideas and everything you want to say in your blog. Of course, the length will vary depending on the topic; some topics require more material and some require less. In short, spend as much time as you need to write a great piece.
Is there a limit to which topics I can write about?
No! That’s the great thing about this class. Andrew wants his students to learn about how science impacts everyday of your life. This means you can write about food, clothing, sports, human behavior, drugs and alcohol (don’t include that you participate in illegal activity, if you do), or even our favorite internet meme Harambe. It is extremely important to write about topics you are interested in. Not only does it make writing less boring, but you are more likely to earn a better grade There is no limit to what you are able to write about, but it must relate back to science and the context of the course material. Failure to do so would not earn you the grade everyone is hoping to earn.
Specific topics are always easier to write about than general ones. For instance if you want to write about energy consumption, write about if the entire world would be able to live like Americans and the environmental implications that could come out of it. It is often a good idea to pose a question and answer that question in the blog. This helps narrow the scope of the subject.
What needs to be in the blog?
Live links, pictures, video links, graphs, charts and those sorts of good things contribute to a great blog post. Usually you will want to link to the article or study that you are drawing information from. Studies and experiments are very effective in making a good argument and including them is an easy way to earn some major points with the graders. It is very important to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS give credit where credit is due. Failure to give credit to another person’s work if you are using it is plagiarism which will not only result in a zero but will also land you in serious trouble with Andrew and the university. If you are inserting a picture, graph, or chart directly into your blog, just include the raw link to where you found it at the end of the post.
What about the comment requirement?
Comments are a required aspect of the blogging. The number of required comments on other posts for each period is included in the syllabus. As far as the content of the comments goes, do not just say, “I agree” or “This post is not good”. The comments should be an analysis of the post you just read. Tell them why you agree or don’t agree or maybe even tell the author what could have really made their post pop. Better feedback for your classmates will not only earn you a better grade, but it will also allow everyone to improve their blogging skills.
Other helpful information to know:
You can actually view the blog posts of all three TAs from last year via this site. Simply search for any of our names and you will find plenty of fantastic examples of blogs to get an idea of what yours might need to look like.
Again, please do not hesitate to email any of the TAs even if it is just to say hi and introduce yourselves. We want to help however we can and we can’t wait to meet more of you all!