Appropriate Technologies: What works best for which purpose with what limitations? 

Note on learning curve issues:  I can create some online videos for technical help.  Tell me what you need:  They will be posted on the WGSS TechHelp page.

Course software ( Good for most collaborations, except collaborative writing.  Strengths:  private;  discussions can be grouped and time-delimited;  can link documents, weblinks, and other resources to discussions.  Limitations:  access, learning curve.  Using NWSA's software provides a common site all of us can access;  Moodle is pretty straightforward. 

Blogs: Good for promoting a particular project and soliciting comment about it.  Strengths:  usually permit posting of images and weblinks as well as text.  Limitations:  blogs tend to be one-sided.

Forums: Good for discussion.  Best developed within course software or some other password-protected site, unless you want anyone on the internet to participate.  They will - spammers and misogynists find these fast.  Strengths:  can thread discussions and provide prompts;  in course software, can also group students for discussion so that everyone can participate and everyone can read every other posting;

Wikis: Good for collaborative writing.  Strengths:  many are free at some level;  some will reveal individual contributions (might be needed for grading);  most free sites can be set so that they cannot be edited by just anyone, some free sites can also be set so that a login is necessary even to see the site.   Best option would be a wiki feature in course software.  Strengths:  very collaborative.  Limitations:  learning curve;  finding the "right" wiki.

Editing functions in Word: Good for collaborative writing.  Strengths:  can identify individual contributions, although this might be more cumbersome than on a wiki;  can use a wide range of formatting.  Limitations:  learning curve.

Email: Good for collaborative writing, not for discussion.  Use sparingly, for sending documents as above.  Strengths:  accessibility.  Limitations:  faculty get too much email;  students don't use email as their primary means of online communication.