I've been exploring Moodle's workshop module. For now, I learned it is too complicated for me to use with my current essay assignments. I really love the idea that students would be scoring and commenting on their own and two other students' essays based on the rubric I gave them. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting it working and in the interest of time, I switched it to an assignment. Now I see that for this point in our Moodle experience, that was wise. It is the next step up in terms of complexity. I think after students understand how to upload files and better understand scoring writing projects with a rubric, then we will be ready for a real online workshop.
Even just doing this as an assignment, I'm loving the interactions that Moodle allows. When I try to conference personally with 26 kids, it doesn't work. The other students are not focused enough to be gainfully employed while I conference, and the face to face conference isn't giving me all the impact that I want. Students generally enjoy the feedback, but it doesn't often lead to improvements in their writing.
With the assignment module, I am able to leave students replies, either inline or separately. I am also able to give them a score that I can change later. This is good for students since they can refer to the comments as much as needed, and the comments don't get lost. It is good for me since I can write the replies outside of class, freeing me for lots of mini-classes during class time.