Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom

Charlie has posted the paper he and Terra Williams co-authored, "Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom." In it, they offer a useful and long overdue critique of Blackboard and WebCT:

Blackboard and WebCT, with their emphasis on content delivery and teacher administration functions, are classroom-only gated communities. Institution-maintained course management sites may have WWW addresses and contain links to other Internet sites, but as they move through the password-protected virtual hallways, students easily realize such online class spaces are not the information superhighway. Instead, they are only one way streets that pull content without contributing to the larger discourse which is the Web. Within password-protected classroom spaces, these student writers are safely sequestered from the discourse community of the Internet.

They argue persuasively that students engage with their peers more in weblog writing and that they take writing for their peers an audience beyond the classroom more seriously than writing only for the instructor.