First, the good: As you read in Magda's entry, my students connected with her students in a peer review session. Besides the obvious benefits for composition (better feedback, more specific comments and criticism) my students also got what I want this experiment to be for them, which is a glimpse of another theme. Suddenly we were discussing gender and gender markers, which was both a nice change of pace and gave students an idea of the wide variety of intellectual pursuits college offers--all thanks to Magda's assignment and her students' drafts.
Now, the bad: I am grading blogs on google docs one after the other Saturday, when my connection stops. Time Warner did not fix it until the next day, and I got a nice break, but I was also thinking what would have happened if I had been a student and that was the time I had allotted to do this task, i.e. post my blog. After all, my computer broke or my internet is down have become the modern-day equivalent of my dog ate my homework. (Has anyone even heard someone use that excuse ever?) And if I were to account for the possibility, how would I safeguard that it then does not become a standard excuse? When students sign up for online classes they do sign kind of a buyer beware clause that technical difficulties cannot be used as a reason for not turning in work, but what we are doing is classroom+, not purely online. I would be interested in how others deal with such issues.