Seth Godin posted a fabulous piece on his blog yesterday that I thought had some relevance to the vibrant chaos I observed in the first few days of orientation for this course. He says that:
"Great design is intuitive. Great design eliminates confusion. But not for everyone, not all the time. The words and interactions you use often have a sophistication that will confuse some portion of your audience.
Why not consider making it easy for the confused to ask for help? And treat them with respect when they do. If you don't create a little confusion, it's unlikely you've built something remarkable."
That seems to me to be a brilliant exposition of what happened with us. There was a lot of confusion, sure, but there was also a very clear way to express that confusion and ask for help. Whether the invitation was effective enough, and how many people were lost in the process are open questions, but for now (with 85 blogs on the class blogroll) we seem to be sailing along quite well.