WordPress for a course website & blog

For my fall course on The German Short Story & Novella, I want to create a website that will basically replace Blackboard as the course management system. At this point I think the key pieces will be: (1) a discussion board where students ask and answer comprehension and other questions about the readings as we go; and (2) a course blog where students post their reflections on our readings and discussions, and then comment on each other’s posts. My goals are to make reading social, and then to practice writing that is frequent, improvisational, public, and dialogic. Both goals are in support of our in-class discussions as well as the term paper — and the support is crucial because these students are still learning how to think, speak, and write about literature in German. I think Jeff’s course blogs like the ones he’s linked here will serve as good models (with an additional section for a discussion board). I want to use WordPress for now, because it’s the platform many of my students have chosen for their individual blog assignments in the past (here’s an outstanding one for anyone who reads German). They’ve told me that Blackboard’s Discussion Board doesn’t support rich dialogue, so I’m hoping that feature will work better on this platform.