I use a blog with my students. I have been blogging since 2007. In my new district, blogger is blocked so the kids are only able to view my blog, they are unable to interact with it. I find this EXTREMELY unfortunate. My blog has transformed from a learning tool to a place where I merely post lesson plans and class resources.
That is a real shame that they resist that. I'm the Director in my district and it took me two years to push through a policy change to allow us to do that. Ive been fighting to take the handcuffs off technology for a while. It feels very backward. There is quite a bit of research and anecdotal evidence supporting something as basic as a blog in writing. Would they allow it if the only way people outside the class had to go through you as mediator to post?
You should try using Collaborize Classroom with your students. Collaborize Classroom is a really useful free online learning forum where you can post topics and activities for your students to respond to. You can also embed multimedia, video, articles, interviews, word documents etc.
Some teachers have found a use for microblogs in the classrooms. From back-channel discussions to students posting questions they have while working on homework assignments, microblogs present an interesting way to connect the teacher with students. Posting questions via microblogging is a great alternative to emailing the teacher. By using a microblog it makes it easier for students to ask questions and also creates new learning opportunities. Before, the questions would be locked away in the email inbox where only one student can see the teacher's response, but now with the transparency of an open microblog every students can learn when the teacher responds to one student's question. It also reduces the need for the teacher to answer the same question emailed by multiple students.
I am a recent college graduate and some friends and I have developed a simple online microblogging platform. We have been pilot testing with some teachers in Ann Arbor, MI and found that microblogs really helps to connect students and teachers. When used properly it helps to augment the teacher's teaching effectiveness. And because it's so easy for students to connect with the teachers, the main concern now is how that can sometimes cut into the teacher's own personal time off away from school.
If you would be interested in finding out more about what we are doing, please feel free to connect with me! We are always looking for more educators to help us test-drive our site and work with us to improve it.