Energizing Student Research Projects with Screencasts and Clogs

Marry McCall
Innovation in Learning Center, Department of English, University of South Alabama

Maurice Gandy
Department of English, University of South Alabama

Ellen Wilson
Marx Library, University of South Alabama

How excited do your students get when you assign a research project?  In a blended American literature survey class, the instructors teamed up with an instructional librarian and used the clog tool to increase student motivation, interaction, and learning.   Students were asked to choose any author from the anthology, analyze how the American ethos was portrayed in the author’s work, and include a link to a website featuring the author.  (The clog is a collaborative log tool in Sakai which allows site participants to create and maintain blogs, as well as to comment on the blog posts of others.)

Because of limited face-to-face time in the blended format, the instructors needed an efficient way to deliver instruction on how to search for and cite academic sources in the research projects.  An instructional librarian created three screencast video recordings which were customized to match the assignment guidelines and then linked to the course site.

 Students posted their research projects to the clog, which allowed them to read each other’s work and explore the live website links.  Posting to the clog increased interaction among class members and exposed the students to authors beyond those included in the syllabus.

The presentation will include information on:  recording instructional screencasts; using the clog tool; and, applying this strategy in other disciplines.  This process for making research projects more engaging could be used in any course format by utilizing the course shell available through USAonline.