Blogs as Lab Notebooks


Jim McGee writes:

So, here's a gedanken experiment for you. Setup each incoming Ph.D. or Master's candidate with a weblog at the beginning of their program. Coach them to use the weblog as a lab notebook of their developing intellectual capital. Use your own weblog to comment on their work and their thinking. Where do you think these students will be after several years of sustained and steady writing? How many will have already started to establish reputations as serious thinkers?

I teach a course on enterprise computing.  I used Slash last year on the course homepage and loved it.  I've always required students to keep a bound lab book.  I think we don't teach computer science students enough about keeping a record of what you do. 

As soon as I started blogging, I had the same idea that Jim had: give each student a blog for the course and let that be their lab notebook.  Having each student's lab notebook available for others to read and comment on is a cool thing.  There's also a very good exercise there: have them set up their own ftp server, overlapping their http server (they all manage their own machine as part of the course) and use HTTP authentication to keep all but myself and TA out of one category in their blog where they post completed assignments.  So, would Userland be willing to donate 50 copies of Radio for the duration of the course?