As I continue to toss around the idea of having some sort of on-line component for my class and me, I'm thinking about lots of things. Would participation with it be part of their grade? Can I structure it to protect their privacy? What format would be most user-friendly and interactive? Why do these things have to have some sort of weird name---like George Lucas thought them up?
A blog is an obvious choice. Is Blogger my best option? I know that I can restrict who is able to view the blog, so that might help keep anyone trolling for info on sweet young things out of our way. But perhaps there are features that might be useful to us that aren't offered by Blogger. I've been looking at MyBlogSite.com. I like the option of a calendar and a way to arrange files by topic. This could be really handy for kids...especially when we're preparing for The Exam in May. I'm not interested in LiveJournal (although most kids have an "LJ"). Typepad might be nice, but I'd have to pony up for it. I'm thinking that "free" is a word I would very much like to have associated with whatever format is chosen.
After scoping out the Education Carnival yesterday, I discovered that there are such things as Blookis. They are part blog, part book, part twiki. This is an intriguing idea, too. It would give us all a way to maintain and edit our own pages. Here, too, money could be an issue---I'd need to find a host server. I suppose it's possible to put it on the school server, but I'm a little nervous about that. My job is then at risk for any controversial content that could appear (and very well may...these are teens, after all). I'm not saying that I won't monitor what we create, but it is different when you know Big Brother has the final word. Next year will be a grand experiment. I'm not ready to deal with bureaucracy just yet.
I think my next step is to spend some time surfing for other classroom blogs. I have done this a bit---but I would like to see more how different people are using these tools. Maybe I can even find out a little more about what helps them be successful.
For now, it's time to grab some lunch and sunshine...and find something with a non-sci-fi name to do.