Life on campus is standing still, however even more seems to be happening online. We spoke with the team behind the science blog from the STEM Writing Center and the editor in chief duo of the “ScheinWerfer” blog, Elina Fläschner und Florian Fabozzi. In the frame of the corona pandemic, the student blogs had to restructure their work. But what has changed in terms of editing, which advantages and disadvantages are there for the working from home structure and for digital communication?
The Writing Center for STEM Subjects’ Science Blog
Students and scientific staff from the STEM subjects at the University of Bremen came together to form a small editorial team and have been working together on the “Science Blog of the Writing Center for STEM Disciplines” project since 2017. The acronym STEM encompasses the subjects science, technology, engineering, and math.
Alongside their own contributions, the team offers interested students and researchers the chance to present their projects, topics, degree courses, or events in the blog. “It is important to us that it’s about exciting STEM topics. We actually find everything that is going on in the STEM field at the University of Bremen interesting. However, we don’t want superficial, colorful, articles with fireworks but rather understandable explanations and descriptions,” explains Tanja Dieckmann, the editor of Science Blog.
Before the corona pandemic was an issue and there were no long-term contact restrictions, the team, which is currently made up of six writers, met up around every three weeks for an editorial meeting. They organized the regular meetings using an online tool. Communication between said meetings mainly took place digitally with an instant messenger, even before corona, and it is now such digital tools that have become more important than ever. Tanja Dieckmann underscores this on behalf of the whole Science Blog team from the STEM Writing Center: “Communication via messenger has clearly become more important. We discuss everything like that now.”
“Of Course, We Miss Direct Communication and Finding Ideas Together”
The team is currently only working digitally. They upload new articles to the net and the comments from the team come digitally as well. They agree with Tanja Dieckmann that alongside personal communication, creativity is also suffering: “Of course, we miss direct communication and finding ideas together.”
The team is open to students and staff who would like to publish an article. The main focus should be the fun you have whilst writing. It is also a way for students to practice science communication. The experienced authors help you to find a topic and are at your side through all phases of the writing process. At the moment, there is great interest in an article on virus research in general or a specific article on the novel coronavirus, for example.
The student project ScheinWerfer (which means “spotlight” in English) also deals with current topics. In 2011, the team started out as an independent print magazine. For the past four years, the students have been publishing their articles on their blog in the style of an online magazine. The magazine, which is organized by students only, is split up into four departments. For example, in the “Beleuchtet” (illuminated) section, they take a look at world politics or current controversies outside of the university. The other departments – “Campusleben” (campus life), “Bremen”, and “Feuilleton” – also deal with diverse matters.
Outside of their weekly editorial meeting, the team, much like the Science Blog team from the STEM Writing Center, has always communicated using digital tools. They are currently being used more, as they now hold their editorial meetings via video calls. “One of the advantages is that our weekly meetings are more structured, expedient, and quicker,” states Florian Fabozzi. “However, having fun and joking around together, which was always part of our meetings, has fallen by the wayside a little,” adds Elina Fläschner.
The team faced a challenge with the production of the new episode of their “SchallWerfer” podcast. As it is difficult to do this via video calls, they had to find a different solution: “We are now producing the podcast with several individually recorded parts on different aspects of one topic,” explains Florian Fabozzi. In line with the current situation, the episode is influenced by the corona crisis and discusses aspects such as pastimes, working from home, social life, and media in times of physical distancing.
“After Initial Difficulties, We’re Now Used to this Mode”
At the moment, the team is often scheduling their digital editorial meetings spontaneously due to unclear seminar conditions and irregular working hours. They see the current situation as a chance: “The current crisis has also inspired us and brought about many new ideas for articles, which has revived our website a great deal,” emphasizes Elina Fläschner. “After initial difficulties, we’re now used to this mode,” adds Florian Fabozzi.
The ScheinWerfer motivates students to join in on its website. Alongside authors, students with knowledge of graphic design, caricatures, or photography are welcome. They have the chance to work on the topics that they wish.
If you have a student blog and would like to tell us about it, please contact the up2date editorial team at email@example.com.
The science blog of the STEM Writing Center