I wasn’t teaching at the time that blogging was widespread enough to even consider using in a course (and of course St. John’s was not exactly a beehive of early-adopters of any technology, except perhaps for cell phones and so-overpowered-they-were-probably-liquid-nitrogen-cooled booming car stereo systems.
However, as you’re thinking about how to implement — no so much technologically as structurally — I point out that the MeFi Guidelines — although perhaps most honored in the breach — are succinct and flexible. They imply some basic ideas about “why one posts” in their attempt to answer the question “how one posts.”
Moreover, thinking about this pointed me to the structural simplicity of MeFi, which has resisted countless attempts to impose Slashdottish “karma” or other numeric rating systems upon conversation, in favor of self-policing through discussion itself,(supplemented by the oddly Expos-like concept of MetaTalk. but that double-layered model might be a poor one for a course-oriented blog).
Anyway, my point is that there is something elegant in MeFi’s model, in which each thread must ideally justify itself in that it is about something (text or image) that lives elsewhere and can be directly pointed to; it invites discussion but doesn’t necessarily stage a bipolar argument (well, not *necessarily*); and it’s equally possible to enjoy the FPPs without getting lost in the thickets of thread-controversy, or to wander within those threads happily off the subject into interesting digression.
And Matt’s strategy of calling out really interesting moments from recent discussions in the right-hand navigation strikes me as quite a good model for the presence of the instructor as (in the memorable rhyme of my 12-grade English teacher, Mrs. Gifford) the “Guide on the Side” as opposed to the “Sage on the Stage.”
But you probably already thought of that.