The great thing about Ning is that they do feel it is theirs. The blogging is really solid, interesting, has depth; they are quoting from the text and have started spontaneous responses to the current novel (Love int he Time of Cholera). I want to channel their enthusiasm into discussion leadership and I want this to happen online to strengthen our discussion follow-up in class. Good motivation so far. So one student said (on the blog) she was fascinated by all of Garcia Marquez's references to the civil war and chaos surrounding the oblivious bourgeoisie. She volunteered to start her own blog on the topic; she researched the endless Colombian civil wars between liberals and conservatives. A humor group in class discussion gathered the funniest moments so far (parrot falling into the stew pot won)--we posed the question--why does GGM combine seriousness (mortality, love, solitude) with farce (people in evening clothes wading through mud and dead animals in a thunderstorm...)--again--this needs to be interrogated, hashed out online; what I like is that they are really prepared in class--ready with page references etc.
on another note, work online is so good I am disappointed in their writing--even in an honors course I am going to have to spend a good chunk of time on essay structure--Jason--love your period and comma thingie on youtube; I need one for essay structure--that it has to be about ONE THING, not go in 7 directions simply because you have brilliant thoughts--is this what the blogs have spawned??? (just kidding--I am still totally in love with them). One more thing--I have started taking very brief notes on what they are noticing--then assigning groups according to their interests--Charles will lead definition of passionate love discussion; Penelope will lead discussion of history etc...they like that I have noted their interests and it helps incorporate the blog into class discussion--this may be obvious to those who have been using this technology for awhile but thought I would mention it...that's all for now :)