Greg organized this thread on his site and I’ve been interested in others’ take on this. What’s jumping out at me is that one solution is to allow a choice of making individual posts available just to members or open to everyone. Doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to present different content to vetted members, perhaps just the teacher and the students in the class, where all can watch all that messy drafting and discussion take place. Only final drafts would then be “published” for all to see.

Charlie kind of echoes this on Kairos when he says:

Also, one thing I might add to this discussion is that perhaps students could have protected blogging sites where they share their texts, but not to the rest of the Internet. Yet, have all of that writing building towards a final, public webzine project. Would this work?

I like the webzine idea, but I also still like the personal student space where he or she can make the choice as to what the public gets to see. Stephen Downes captures it when he says:

Trust me, nothing teaches you to write well, to write quickly, when you know that 25,000 people will read your words the next day. But that said, I think it should be the choice of the student – and it seems to me that the same digital rights we use to manage professional works can also be employed by students to manage the public – or private – nature of their work online.

So, is it time to go to the Manila Dev Group and see what they can do?

On a side note, I’ve also been struck by the need for a better way to follow these threads as they pop up on various Web logs…really does illustrate the need for Trackback or some similar tool for aggregating these discussions. Hector Vila at Middlebury pointed to a really interesting analysis of how Web log discussions evolve done by Tom Coates, one that is worth a second and third read (for me at least) to fully get the importance of what he’s articulating. Hector refers to the post in the context of getting his own students to do more cross posting in their Web logs. He says:

Usually courses have a “motherBlog,”; these function as KM tools from which everything is generated, including discussions. If we turn to the student blogs, then, and in turn view their discussions, we see that there are none: they are not talkin’ cross-blogs! They are not engaging each other, from their blogs, referring to blogs!

I’ve been kicking that around in my brain, too, ways to get students to interact in their spaces, and it’s something I want to write more about. I do think that creating working groups has helped that, but they’re still not cross-posting on their own, only when directed.

Anyway, Tom does an excellent job of showing how these discussions evolve, from initial idea to individual “voting” on other Web logs to a “major response” which then shifts the discussion or propels it forward. It’s generating some sketchy idea in my head where my journalism students post something of note with analysis about their beat topic and then they spend a day jumping around, commenting on threads. I don’t like it being so forced, and the logistics of following such threads without an aggregator tool or Trackback seem difficult. Still, it would be nice if students could value more the synthesis of ideas that comes from posting to or posting about each other’s ideas. Maybe it lies in making their spaces a bit more personal, or restructuring their spaces to support more personal thought separate from academic endeavors. (That echoes another thread that’s been bouncing around lately too about combining the personal with the “scholarly” in these spaces.)

As always, much to think about…