Michael Stephens is now using WordPress MU to host his classes online, and that opening page is really sweet. It’s hardly the first time somebody’s used a blog to host course content, but I like where he’s going with it. We’re significantly expanding our use of WordPress at Plymouth, and using it to replace WebCT/Blackboard is definitely an option. The biggest difference may be that course content in blogs is public, by default, but content in Blackboard is shared only with the members of the course. John Martin calls this “teaching out loud.” My opinion is a little more emphatic: “don’t do it in the dark.”
I wonder if Michael plans to keep content online after the classes run, or what he’ll do with old content if he runs the same course again in a later term. I think there’s a lot of value in leaving course content online and available to course participants long after the course is completed. I’ve been thinking the best way to make that work is to make each course (or section of a course) in each term its own blog. That way each instructor gets full control over their course environment, while still making it easy to preserve that content over time. Here’s the URL scheme I have in mind:
or, in practice, something like this:
It may not be pretty to have all those numbers, but it’s reliable, predictable, and extendable. The URL structure beyond that would be up to the instructor, and the subdirectories leading to the course blogs can automatically index their sub-content. My biggest question is about where to put the term code. I expect I’ll just have to play with it a while.