There were several problems I attempted to address by having students produce blog posts and podcasts as the platform to present their research.
1. Grading presentations had become frustrating, for both myself and the students. It was often hard to tell if a students bad performance was because they were nervous or because they didn’t know the material. I research alternative ways for students to conduct and research their research. I listen to various podcasts regularly, so when I found several faculty at other universities who have had students produce podcasts, I wanted to try it.
2. I was reading and hearing a lot about the responsibility of researchers to the communities we study and publish about. Because of my early work with allAfrica.com, I was often able to produce articles on artists that I worked with, which greatly improved my access to those communities. The student written and produced blog posts and podcasts are a way for artists, many of whom are only known nationally, to have their work featured.
3. I needed data for my own research. Undergraduates are often limited in the ways we can involve them in our research. The blog and podcasts were an excellent way to address that.
The results have included more enthusiasm from students in doing these assignments, Student engagement in conversations with broader communities, and the production of much needed data for the completion of of my research.
The following pages provides examples on the use of these methodologies.
Here is a video about the blog and podcast’s growth.