Peter responded to my post about the difference between a threaded discussion and a weblog interface:
“I think the main difference is one of ‘ownership’. That class has its own soapbox to express its views on any given subject. They are not on someone else’s stage. That almost unquantifiable feeling of ownership is an important feature in building any community. Whether any discussion becomes truly interactive however, is in large part dependent on how the teacher ‘sells’ the concept and trains students to interact. Although educators pay great lip service to the importance of interaction, we tend not to provide the basic building block skills for it to happen more naturally and at a more than superficial level.”
The class weblog is a soapbox as well, I think, and maybe even more effective because of the “shared space” aspect to it, at least in the way I perceive the differences between web logs and newsgroups. The one drawback is that some of the answers to certain posts will not be “threaded” the same way, a la the MetaFilter comments board. That’s what I want to analyze, I guess. I think Peter and I are basically on the same page about the teacher’s role in selling the concept and teaching the skills. I’m thinking that I’m going to have to pay close attention to the ways I interact with them in their weblogs. Interpersonal skills need to developed in shared space writing as well, a point very well taken.