In Spring 2011, a group of 10 students at Penn State Brandywine enrolled in my EARTH 111 course titled Water: Science and Society. The course is an investigation of water behavior, occurrence, its relevance to life, human activities, politics, and society. During the semester, students generated and led classroom discussions on water-related case studies, spanning domestic and international locations. We Skyped with organizations that were tackling water issues and working to create sustained water sources. But studying water-related issues and problems was not enough. The students wanted to do more – most importantly, to discuss and propose solutions to global water issues, and to highlight organizations working towards these solutions. Welcome to the solution, what the students felt they could do and be most effective at – using social media to generate an awareness campaign about water. You are currently at the site that is the new home to their original mini-podcasting series, WaterBytes. Each weekday for a two-week period in April 2011 (starting with Earth Day), a student-generated podcast was posted on Tumblr to inform others of water issues. Then, one podcast a week was be posted for the next ten weeks. The students hoped their 19 podcasts would generate questions and discussion. Supporting each original podcast were links in Delicious, a social bookmarking website (unfortunately, our class site is no longer available). In addition, the students generated tweets and retweets about water in their Twitter account, @PSUBW_Water.
The impact of the WaterBytes podcasts went much further than the students or myself thought possible. The students were happy enough to have Penn State News pick up the story, but then when we heard that the Science Centre Singapore announced and shared our podcasts on their website, giving the students a confirmed international audience listening to their work. I have kept in touch with many of these original WaterByte trailblazers, and they have stated that this course was one of their best academic undergraduate experiences, and they want to see the series continue.
The WaterBytes series is getting a jumpstart in Fall 2015 with a new, hybrid course offering of EARTH 111. It is important for me to share that students want you, the listener, to not only learn from their efforts concerning increasing water literacy, but that they want you to share your new knowledge with others.
Thank you for listening!
Dr. Laura Guertin, Professor of Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://about.me/drlauraguertin