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Mark O. Martin

Dear Elio and Merry:

I'm just one voice, and every professor has a different audience, and thus different pedagogical needs. For me, I teach at a small liberal arts institution, and I have only one shot to teach microbiology---generally to juniors and seniors. They have had several cell and molecular biology based courses by the time I see them (but I sometimes worry about how much is retained from course to course). I think that one entry per week would work out well. We have about 12 - 13 weeks of classes...so I would think about twelve to thirteen "entries."

I believe that the themes should follow the course material/progression in some fashion. For example:

I. Weird and Wonderful Microbiology (what would happen if all microbes vanished, etc).
II. History and Microbiology
III. How to observe microbes
IV. Microbial form and structure
V. How microbes obtain carbon and energy
VI. How microbes are related to one another
VII. Microbes interacting with other microbes
VIII. Microbes interacting with animals and plants in a positive fashion
IX. Microbes interacting with animals and plants in a negative fashion
X. Microbes in everyday life
X. The deeply weird microbial world
XI. The future of microbiology

So I am trying to look through STL entries to see what appeals in each of those categories.

Normally, I would say that assigning a webpointer once a week should be sufficient. Some students would rather have a short PDF (or perhaps a given STL entry could be converted into PDF easily) in their hands.

I am thinking about using the STL entries in two ways: strange/wonderful microbiological facts not to be found in textbooks, and perhaps more importantly, a way to get students to read and think about the primary literature. I am thinking of the latter goal as "carrot and stick." On each exam will be "simple questions" relating to the blog entries and accompanying references. But there WILL be an extra credit question on each exam that would only be answerable if the student had read the paper in question carefully.

These are just things that occur to me, Merry and Elio. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. But I hope that STL can be used as a resource to get students thinking "outside the box" and get them reading the primary literature. Thanks for your hard work.

A long entry, but you did ask...

Best, Mark Martin

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