Let's just get them all using RSS

In the course I am running for the fourth year for a large financial services firm, we have always had difficulty getting the participants to visit the course web site. This led us initially to use only asynchronous discussion boards that had the capability of functioning entirely through email. Participants didn't have to visit the web site ever – they received one anothers comments by email and could reply that way with all communication automatically posted to the discussion board.
Now that we are using a weblog instead of a discussion board we are experiencing multiple threads of very rich discussion.
We face a paradox in this course. Some participants like to write long winded comments but most participants don't have time to read anything longer than a paragraph. If they start to recieve lengthy emails from the course on a regular basis they will start to tune out the entire discussion.
So the learning director has the job of filtering and excerpting and re-posting comments to make sure the most interesting information gets in front of the participants. The ones that are interested enough can go to the blog to read more and ideally comment.
To ensure participants see the discussion we have three choices:
1. Use the notification feature built into Movable Type.
2. Manually send out an email version of the post with links back to the blog
3. Provide all the participants with a newsreader, subscribe them to the blog, and teach them to use it.
We've opted for option 2 in this course because we wanted to use an nicely designed Outlook template instead of the bare bones MT notification email. We didn't want to add the hurdle of newsreader software to what is already a very demanding course for people with very little time.
But this leads to a dilemma: When a participant has commented and then some time goes by before anyone responds, how can I, as the Learning Director, be sure that the first participant is going to remember to check back to the post that he commented on to see if anyone has followed up?
In the ACS discussion board we used to use (and in many others), you can subscribe to a particular thread so that you get an email notification when anyone responds.
Maybe we need the same feature on the blog. Once you comment on a post, you would be automatically subscribed to receive a notfication when anyone else comments on that post.
Better yet, we should just get all the participants using the RSS feed which would include both posts and comments.

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