Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wrapping up the semester

With less than three weeks left in the semester I wanted to sum up the projects left for our class:

Video Projects
We will have popcorn and movies for our last class on Wednesday, April 27th.  You will need to submit your video to me before that class, or bring it on a thumb drive that morning.  Because of the size of video files, do not depend on emailing it to yourself.  Next week we will spend some time in class dealing with any technical issues you may be having with your video.

Powerpoint slides
Your individual Powerpoint slides will be due on Friday, April 29th.  You should have 3-5 slides that tell some story about a topic covered in our assessment test that you want to learn more about.  Your slides should be useable for a 5-minute presentation on that topic.  Use this project to practice some of the Powerpoint slide design techniques you have read about or that we have talked about in class.  And remember the story telling tips we have covered in class this semester.

In addition to your slides, you should add a final blog post that describes what you would say if giving a presentation using these slides.  You can use your slides as images in your blog post, or deposit your slides as a Powerpoint file on our course Angel page.

As always, let me know if you have questions.  I can't wait to see your videos.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Start drawing those storyboards

Here is a quick reminder of your assignments for next week's class:

  1. Develop the concept for your group video project and be ready to pitch it to the class
  2. Start working on your storyboards, which will diagram the shots for your video
  3. Read appendix 2 in Randy Olson's book
  4. Decide on a topic for your powerpoint slides
  5. Read over these "Top Ten Slide Tips"
  6. Be sure to read and comment on each other's posts.  And listen to those audio projects
See you Wednesday

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Presentations and videos

Flip UltraHD Video Camera - Black 8 GB 2 hours Newest ModelWe have two primary projects left this semester - your group videos and individual powerpoint presentations.  We will not meet in class this coming Wednesday because of the student research and scholarship symposium going on all day that day, but I would like you to do some preparation for both of these projects prior to our next class on April 6th:

  1. Write one blog post on some topic that challenged you on the assessment test.  Use this as an opportunity to learn more about a topic in Biology that you think you should know better.  This post is due on April 1st.
  2. Check out the science communication page on our AU wiki, and watch the Talking Science video by April 6th.  There are also lots of other good resources on this page for designing powerpoint and poster presentations.
  3. Take notes on two presentations from the CAS symposium on March 30th indicating what you thought was done well and what could be done better.  The talks you critique can be from any discipline - they do not have to be science talks.  Be ready to discuss your observations when we are back in class on April 6th.  You can find the schedule for symposium talks here.
  4. Work with your video project to decide on a topic for your project and discuss initial plans.  Be prepared to discuss this on April 6th.
See you at the Symposium.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Get busy recording

Here is a quick reminder of your upcoming assignments:

  • Email me a current script/outline/plan for your audio recording by this Friday
  • Fill in a title for your project on the google doc sign up page
  • Sign up for a time when you need a recorder as well

Audio projects are now due on Wednesday, March 23rd.  You should have all of your needed audio by March 16th and have tried some editing so that we can discuss any technical issues.

Good luck and have a great break.  Check back with the blog over the next week or so as I may throw some reading/listening at you.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let's start recording some audio

In this week's class we will be touching base briefly about your audio projects and then spending most of our time learning how to tell stories with video.  Tim McCarty from the Journalism/Digital Media Department will be joining us again to conduct a workshop on camera technique.

You should come to class with a script for your audio project.  And when you are ready to record some audio use this link to reserve a time with one of our TEAC recorders.  I will post a short video soon showing how to record and download your video to a computer.  You'll find that the TEAC's are very easy to use.

Our assessment test will be available on Angel for you to take soon.  This will include 75 multiple choice questions and you will need to complete it by midnight on Tuesday, March 15th.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Story structure analysis, planning audio projects

Script from Office Hours
In this week's class we will take some time to talk more about story structure and plan for your audio projects.  To prepare for class:

  • Choose one of the class blog posts from the past week that you think did a good job of following the three act story telling structure we talked about in class (do not pick your post).  Take notes on how that specific post followed this story structure and be ready to share this information with the class on Wednesday.  Your notes should explain how each act is reflected in that post.  I will not collect these in class, but be sure they are detailed enough for you to walk the class through the post you are analyzing.
  • Work with your audio project partner to come up with your project idea, or at least develop a short list of ideas.  Be ready to share this in Wednesday's class.
  • If you have not emailed me with the name of your audio project partner, add this information to the audio project sign-up google document using the link that I emailed to you.
I would like to push the final audio project due date to after spring break - March 16th.  We will talk more about the technical aspects of doing this project in this week's class.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blogs by AU biology grads

A handful of our biology alums have made a valiant effort to maintain their science blogs or start new blogs after graduating from AU.  Here are a couple to check out and encourage:
And while you are at it you may want to add AU's new environmental science blog to your Google Reader accounts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New posts and planning your audio projects

Storyboard panel by Jay Hosler
for Office Hours.
I hope that today's discussion with Jay Hosler and Tim McCarty provided some background for thinking about story structure in your writing.  As I mentioned in class, we will not be meeting next week since a number of us will be in Columbus presenting research posters at the Statehouse.  But I have some assignments for you nonetheless:

  • Add a new post to your blog that uses the three act structure we talked about today, and that Randy Olson describes in chapter 3 of his book.  As you think about this classic story-telling structure, see if your first post used it, and whether the science blogs you read utilize this structure.  Your new post should be between 300 and 500 words and once again convey something in science.
  • Identify the person you will collaborate with on your audio project.  Ideally you will be working in pairs, but if needed you can work in groups of three.  Four is too many.  Email me if you need help identifying a partner/partners.
  • Once you have an audio project collaborator, think about potential topics for a one-minute audio segment.  What ideas/information do you want to convey?  How will you do it?  What will be the structure of your segment?  What is the story?  Perhaps you could use our list of what biologists should know to find a general area of interest, but then you will need to focus in on specific content? Is there an interview you could line up?  A faculty member on campus, or a scientist somewhere else?  Phone interview?  Your goal for this week is to develop ideas for potential projects.  Next week we will focus on fine-tuning those ideas into something more concrete.  Your audio segment will be due March 2nd.
  • As always keep on eye on your Google Reader account and this blog.  You may find some good project ideas by keeping tuned into the science blogosphere.  And keep commenting on each other's posts (and posts from blogs in the real world if you dare).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Want to hear how your audio compares?

Here is a sample of the re-mix submissions I received.  As you listen to them think about how the edits change the story being told.  For the next few weeks one of our topics of discussion will be story structure.

Science blogs as a communication tool

Kevin Zelnio has a great editorial on his Deep-Sea News blog on the value of blogs and other social media for engaging non-scientists with science.  His comments tie directly into the ideas we have discussed in class and are worth reading.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Seriously though . . .

if you are heading off to graduate school next year or thinking about it for the future you should check out a free guide from the journal Science about career steps from undergraduate degree through post-doctoral positions.

You will need to sign up for Science's free career service when you request the booklet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Preparing for audio and video projects

I have been very impressed with your first round of posts.  They have been entertaining, informative and engaging.

For this next week I would like you to do some preparation for a guest speaker coming to class.  Dr. Jay Hosler, a Professor of Biology from Juniata College in Pennsylvania, will be coming to Ashland to give a talk on his new Evolution graphic novel Tuesday, February 8th at 4pm in Kettering 112.  The next day Dr. Hosler will come to our class with AU journalism professor Tim McCarty to talk about storyboarding, science communication, and video design.  Over the following weeks you will use these discussions and your new-found audio editing skills in your team audio and video projects.

Here are some resources for next week:

And to get you thinking about how a science audio project might sound, check out some science stories from NPR.

And lastly, your group will need a platform for discussing and planning your projects.  Now that you all have Google accounts have someone on your team start a google documents page that you can all add to.  After starting the page you will need to share it with the other members of your group.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Networking in science

LinkedinThree students over the past week have asked me - "What is Linkedin?"  They had each heard about it from one source or another, so I had the chance to give them a quick run down.  Have you heard of Linkedin, the "professional Facebook"?  If not, you might want to sign up for a free account, and then check out our Ashland University Science Network.  Here you can get career information from a growing number of AU science graduates and science program friends.  This social media platform also allows you to leverage the network between your connections as your own career develops.

We will talk a bit more about Linked In later in the semester, and the importance of networking in general.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Science writing and audio editing

Now that your blogs are set up and you've done some reading around the science blogosphere it is time to take these things out for a spin.  I would like you to use this week's blog post as a way to incorporate some of the science writing tips you read about over the last week.  Write a post for your blog (300-500 words) about any science related topic.  At the end of that post add one more paragraph explaining how you attempted to incorporate the writing tips we mentioned in class today.  Here is the blog post I mentioned today on

There are a few other things to do in addition to writing your post:

  • Sign up for a Google Reader account and add all of our course blogs and any other blogs you like so that you can follow new posts
  • Leave at least one comment on one of the course blogs
  • Use Audacity to play with the audio file that I email to you.  Produce a re-mix of that audio file that changes the order of the dialog.  All AU campus computers should have Audacity on them, or you can download it to your computer for free.  Email the final product of your editing to me as an mp3 file.
  • We will take a break from reading the Olson book this week.
Feel free to email me or Mike Randolph with any technical questions about Audacity.

And one quick blogging tech tip - instead of showing the actual URL for a website in your blog, make it a hyperlink from the name of the website or online resource, as I have done in the post above.  To do that simply click and drag to highlight the text in your post that will be the link and click on this button:

Have fun.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Looking for some career resources?

Greenhouse EquipmentOne request in your recent class survey was for information on careers in science.  You are probably not aware of the many things you can do with a degree in Biology, and maybe could use some advice on how to get there.  Hopefully these links will help:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some reading and blogging for next week

Blogger BarbieI hope you are all having fun tinkering with the look of your blogs.  Having technical issues?  Hopefully I can help you with some resources below.

But first, here is some reading to get you ready for next week when we will spend some time talking about the qualities of good science writing.  We will also be visited by Michael Randolph, journalism professor and advisor for AU's WRDL radio station.
And I have your first blogging assignment.  Start surfing some science blogs and pick your two favorites.  How do you find science blogs?  You can start by clicking on the links to blogs listed on the right side of this page.  Those blogs will themselves have links, and so on, and so on.  This way you will be moving through a vast network of blogs, and can discover some very popular sites and some hidden gems.  You can also check out the high-profile blogs mentioned in the article from The Scientist that you read this past week.

Once you have selected your two favorite blogs, your assignment is to write a short post to your own blog (with the awesome name that you came up with today) naming them and explaining what it is that you like about them.  The purpose for this assignment is to get you checking out the science blogosphere and to get some technical practice with using Blogger as a platform.  And try to make your post entertaining (something will talk more about next week).  This is an individual assignment, so each of you should add your own post to your group blog.

Now for the technical stuff:
  • Here is a YouTube video on posting to Blogger.
  • Be sure to proof your posts.  There is no reason for typos.
  • Use hyperlinks to link directly to other webpages.  The video above will show you how.
  • Got questions?  Leave them as a comment below to this post and I will answer them here.  Be sure to check back for the answers.
Good luck, and ask before you get too frustrated with anything.  People's grandmothers are blogging.  You can too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An introduction to your senior seminar

Welcome to our senior seminar course. You may be asking why you are here? The short answer is that if you weren't we would not let you graduate. But now for the long answer . . .

This blog will be the central location for the media and online discussion used in this course. For example, let's start with a little video:

Hopefully by the end of today you will have some sense of what I would like us to accomplish this semester.  Are you looking forward to it?  If so, bonus points for me.  If not, hang in there.

Here is some reading for next week's class: