I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with the developer of one of the newer Weblog hosting services about what educators want that they don’t seem to be getting from the current offerings. I’ve told him that aside from the access and hosting issues, privacy and safety concerns are pretty paramount. I know I’ve been moaning about the need for different levels of access for posts and for being able to screen out inappropriate comments before they are published. (I just had ManilaFixer and CommentIt installed on my server to play with so maybe there are some answers there…) But the other aspect of the current set up that has been bothering me for a while is the kind of disconnectedness of all of my student spaces, the lack of community. I know that mere software tweaks won’t necessarily solve that, but at this point, the fact that my students’ sites are simply linked to one another and to my class portal site just seems inadequate.

Anyway, this developer has what I think is a pretty cool idea. As usual, this may not be anything really and truly new to anyone but me. But as we’ve communicated, it’s evolved into what I’ll call an Intrablog or kind of Intranet Weblog community that paints an interesting picture in my mind. This is probably along the lines of Blackboard, but since I have very limited experience with it I’m not sure. It’s a portal through which only members of the community enter (in this case my students). Inside resides not only the individual student sites but message boards, discussion groups, chat, aggregated posts, etc. It’s kind of an Intranet for my class. Individual student sites are still open for viewing, at least the content that has been deemed “publishable.” I keep seeing it as a place where everyone can communicate with each other about whatever interests them. It’s still pretty murky, but I think I see the outlines…

Best part is this developer is hoping to create something like this that’ll work with whatever software you are using. How he’ll do that, I have no clue. But if you’re interested, I’d love to hear your ideas…and stay tuned.