I’m currently in the process of setting up Drupal sites for my classes, and I’ve run into a dilemma. Should I use a wysiwyg editor or not? I personally don’t care for them, but would students feel more comfortable composing blog entries in an environment that looks a bit more like a word processor?

In the past, I’ve argued that a plain text editor really leaves more control in the hands of the author, and control is what it’s all about. When a student wants to emphasize text in a blog entry, the path through learning how to properly write an tag pulls them through a thought process that encourage reflection on why and how some text is emphasized. It also gives the student a glimpse under the hood, which — in a day when HTML skills are increasingly less a gateway to web literacy — starts to reveal the layers of software and platform underlying the Internet Explorer / Facebook concept of the web that might otherwise be the default.

So part of me (a curmudgeonly part) wants to insist that they craft blog content with some basic HTML tags. Another part wants to make the path to content creation as smooth as possible.

But how do I strike that balance?

Fortunately, Drupal’s WYSIWYG API let’s me fine tune that balance, including the capacity to customize which functions I want handled by WYSIWYG and which I want left to manual HTML.

So what do you think? If you include blogs in coursework, have you used a WYSIWYG platform, or have you encouraged or insisted on HTML? If the former, do you yourself blog with a WYSIWYG editor, or in HTML mode?

If you’re one of my former students, did you find HTML composition an obstacle and/or did you actually go through the reflective process I describe above?