Things I Learned: Part II…

We are the students of today.

After watching the wrap up videos “The Machine is Changing Us” and “A Vision of Students Today,” I realized I learned a lot about the make-up of students today through peer discussions in this course.  It was similar to the activity in “A Vision of Students Today;” we each documented how we interact and learn as students.  We performed our own experiment to see which ideas, opinions, and viewpoints would surface about ourselves and our students.  It’s interesting to think about the demographics of our class compared to other online courses.  How do we represent the students of today?

We never opened a textbook.

Although there was (thankfully) never a textbook assigned for this course, we viewed hundreds of web pages with relevant research about online teaching.  If most students don’t buy, open, or read their textbooks and prefer free online content, why assign them.  I learned that the students in the class demonstrated plenty of deep thought about extremely important topics without ever using a standardized text.  Most of what we learned we found from sources that weren’t assigned to us.  Can one textbook capture MOOCs, student seminars, citation software, grammar theory, communication skills, language as art, standardized exams, assessment rubrics, Common Core, ELL students, teacher presence, engagement theory, PowerPoint, competency based learning, developmental psychology, and motivational techniques?  We did it in one discussion forum called “How do they do it in their online course?”  It was more unique, authentic, and relevant than the $117.19 Instructional Design textbook.  It would be interesting to see what our textbook would look like if we combined all of the sources we cited.  Some courses do have students create textbooks.

Some cites may not be great examples of instructional design, educational theory, or real-life classroom research, but they seem more applicable.  I have learned more from reading a blog post of a teacher then from a textbook.  Despite the 99% of YouTube videos that are irrelevant (“The Machine is Changing Us”), our instructor still found ones that were.  I learned that the good stuff is out there.  We just have to search for it, and it is much easier searching for it together.

We might not be able to teach ourselves.

Or, I couldn’t.  I keep imagining a student just like me in a class I am teaching.  I think she would be bored in my class.  She would want to know and use the newest technology and the newest educational theories.  She would want a teacher who knows how to create a peer community that connects multiple learning styles and pushes students to think outside the box.  She would want a teacher that is challenging her to think deeper and differently, not a hard teacher, but a thought provoking one.  She would want someone who would get her ready for the challenges she has to face in the future.  I would fail her.

There is so much I still am teaching myself.  I don’t know computer code.  I am not ready to integrate Twitter or a social media site into everything I do; some things, but not everything.  I’m still learning about education models like the Flipped-Classroom.  I’m on board with them, but I don’t know enough to implement them.  What of the emerging students of tomorrow?  How will I be able to help them?  The “Vision of Students Today” video makes me a little sad knowing that the jobs most of our students will have don’t even exist yet.  I learned that I constantly need to be looking forward, moving forward, with my instruction.

“I care.  Let’s do whatever it takes… by whatever means necessary” (“The Machine is Changing Us”)

 

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Things I Learned: Part I…

I thought Moodle would be more interesting.

Having been accustomed to online components in Angel or Blackboard, Moodle was quite a different experience.   I’m glad I got to test it out before the college in which I work transitions over in the fall.  With all of the hype surrounding Moodle-it’s customizable, open, etc.- I was looking forward to a new Web 2.0 experience.  While I learned about how to link, embed, and format in Moodle, I wish there was more to it.

Overall, I like Moodle.  It’s extremely easy to use, there is a ton of documentation, and seems fairly bug-free and stable.  For example, I was able to add/remove widgets such as the calendar, participant list, and forum search without looking at any directions.  It was intuitive.  I wish it was drag and drop instead of those pesky arrows, but it was quick enough.  That was the feeling I kept getting from Moodle, “This is easy enough,” “This is good enough,” “This isn’t what I wanted, but it’ll do.”  You can’t put in space between tasks in the module, so we were instructed to make empty tasks so that the formatting looks clear.  I can’t figure out how to move the photos so that they are next to the tasks in the module instead of always being on top, so they are all on top, and it looks fine.   You have to create a dummy module for your course documents because you can’t create hyperlinks in the sidebar without them, but they are okay down there.  For some reason I can’t change the module numbers, so I squeezed my ice breaking activities into the first module so that the module numbers made sense.  It looks a little weird and overwhelming, but it’s fine.  I think I had such high expectations that Moodle would be this fantastically program that would change how I approach learning management systems.  It’s pretty good, but it’s not as amazing as I hoped it would be.

The Moodle interface reminds me a lot of Open Office.  Both are open source, but there are a variety of instances to choose from.  Both have most the features you want in the paid-for version (Angel/Blackboard; Word/Pages), but seem to lack the polish.  Neither Moodle or Open Office are very pretty (UCL agrees).   They almost seem too cluttered with options.  I can never find how to auto-number pages in Open Office and don’t care that I can translate the thesaurus into German.  The same can be said for Moodle.  The number of choices for creating a forum is insane.  I never remember what the different is between a “standard forum for general use” and “a single simple discussion.”  What is the common module setting?  And why can’t I have this automatically appear on the calendar when I create it?  Or a to do list?  Why can I choose a “Loan Calculator” or “Random Glossary Entry” as a widget, but there isn’t a direct twitter feed or slideshow or tag cloud (that is not for a blog but for the whole course)? Why don’t they call them widgets?   Why is everything so linear?

I think the biggest thing I learned was that if I want to know more about the different ways to build a course, the different LMSs, and how to use them, I need to take a course specifically on building online courses and LMSs.  There is still so much I want to know.  I learned that there is still so much more to know just about how to building a course, even before I think about learning styles and discussion forums.  I need to know how to use the features and the pros and cons of one system over another.  I learned that a lot of what I teach will be limited by the functionality of the LMS.  I learned that there is so much more.

 

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Complexity

The Knowledge Web

After reviewing the review of my course, I think I need to explain the thought process of my course development.  I’m currently reading the book The Knowledge Web by James Burke, which examines how there are multiple ways to connect knowledge, but our tradition of linear learning rejects, or at least, doesn’t easily allow for connections.  Burke sets up his book in the traditional page and chapter format, but throughout the pages are “addresses” (for example “55 27 53”).  to find a link to a reference of the same subject in another place in the book.  It highlights how limiting the paper format is compared to the internet; I can’t open new tabs, but have to keep flipping between finger-held sections.  At the same time, it demonstrates how complex learning is; I’ve gotten lost in Wikipedia for hours by clicking to another “address” and can easily get lost in the book unable to find where I left off.

I wanted to create my course where there is a linear format: there is a suggested path (Module 1 leads to Module 2), but also allows for students to just weave their way through multiple “addresses”.  I mentioned in my course review that I wish there was a LMS that was more like a web, something like Khan Academy’s math web.  You can start at the easy stuff at the top and work towards the harder stuff at the bottom in a sequence or pop over from stats to vectors.  Students in my course can follow the suggested linear path, but can also go to the gamification “address” instead of the “what’s next.”  They can learn through a web instead of through a line.  And if they get lost, that’s okay too.  Learning is complex, not just linear.  I’ve certainly learned in this course that even building in a LMS is complex, not a line, but a messy web of revising.

To stop some of the getting lost, I named by assignments by modules, so if a student is in module 4 and needs to find the assignment in module 1 he/she can find it without having to look up the name of the activity.  They are my “addresses.”  I hope it allows for the “exploration phase” discussed in the Garrison article.  If they can find their way back, they can play without out the fear of getting lost in the complexity.

Technology

It was interesting listening to George Siemens’s video  and Terry Neal’s video on technology.  In my course I tried to stay away from too much complexity: too many forum types, too many new online tools, too many different place for student to get lost.  The digital badging websites (OpenBadges.org, KhanAcademy, etc.) are already the diverse tools.  Learning how to navigate through the complexities of digital badge systems is the complex technology that will be new to most students.  I am using Elluminate, Prezi, and allowing students to use whichever tool they want to create their presentations, but I’m trying to keep the focus on the digital badging tools.  It’s interesting that George Siemens states that when students use more and more technology students might not be learning more, but engaging more (though this may create learning).   I hope that I am balancing enough simplicity with all the complexity.

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The Price of Online Course Development

Classroom Management

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned from this course is that most of my time is spent on organizing and adding features to Moodle rather than selecting and developing resources and content.  I assumed that the extra time spent in developing the Moodle structure would help decrease the amount of time spent in classroom management, but another open course (EDIT 5397) for online course development states that “disruptive behavior is as common in the online classroom as it is in the face-to-face classrooms.”  Christopher Hill says that developing the course isn’t enough, classroom management is required throughout the course, especially for students who drop in and out.  Despite the amount of classroom management required during the course, Daniel P. Stewart’s research concludes that “the online learning environment can be as rich and rewarding as the traditional environment if preventive class management is made an integral part of course preparation.”  If there is as much classroom management required during the course as in a F2F and an online course requires much more development before the course starts, where should I pull the time from?

The Actual Price

It’s interesting that developing the first course costs more than the second course developed.  If this is true, shouldn’t there be course shells that have been tested over time in which faculty can just plug in their content?  Estimates for online course development are $10,000-15,000 per credit hour (“Online Course Development: What is the Cost?”).  I’m worried that when I take what I’ve learned to the “real world,” I will have even less time to develop a course, and therefore, will be able to focus on content even less.

A Possible Solution

The Myth of Online Course Development” suggests that faculty don’t develop a course themselves, but depend on the college’s IT department and instructional designers.  “Although the “Lone Ranger” approach to online learning has worked in the past, it does not scale well. Institutions that are sincere about providing high-quality, flexible educational experiences are finding that teams—not individuals—develop and deliver the most effective online courses.”  Our professor, in a way, serves as an additional team member, but it would be interesting to see how the faculty-instructional designer relationship works on a campus.  Of course, this assumes that the institution has instructional designers, which includes another cost.

It’s overwhelming to think that there is so much work that goes into online course development, and surprisingly, so little of it is in the content, but in the structuring of the course shell.  Moving from theory to practice is a big step.

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I hope to be…

I hope to be…

After taking stock in who I am as a learner and instructor (see previous post), I spent some time thinking about what type of instructor I hope to be.  “A Follow-Up Investigation of Teaching Presence in the SUNY Learning Network” suggests that there are three types of presence in an online course: cognitive, social, and teaching.   There are multiple components of each “presence.”  While teachers can encourage cognitive and social presence, they alone are responsible for their teaching presence.

An Organizer

One of the important aspects of online teaching in both the article “A Follow-Up Investigation of Teaching Presence in the SUNY Learning Network” and the video “Understanding Teaching Presence and Class Community Online” is organizing the curriculum and teaching materials so that they are easily accessible to students.  I think that I’ve spent most of time in this course creating an organization structure for my own.   While it will constantly need updating every term, there is an implicit teacher presence with course organization that explicit interaction.

A Facilitator  

Facilitating F2F course discussion using fishbowls, socratic seminars, or debates is familiar to me, but knowing when to comment in a discussion forum and when to let students facilitate their own discussion isn’t.  When should I lead students back to the “right track?”  When should I introduce a new idea?  If the course is asynchronous, I don’t want to jump into the discussion before everyone else comments since peer-to-peer learning is one of the focuses of the course.  The video mentions giving prompt feedback, but what is prompt?  How often should I comment?  Once per module on each activity per this course?  I think that’s a good starting point.  If “72% of students expressed agreement that their classmates facilitated discourse effectively” (“Understanding”), what is left for teacher facilitation?

Perhaps, as an instructor I will be facilitating the facilitators.  The article mentions that facilitators need to reinforce student contributions to the course. “Certainly, students have traditionally expected the instructor to play the central role in teaching. Upon reflection they may be pleasantly surprised to discover that their classmates also perform some of this role, but their expectations are higher for the instructor than for their fellow students (“A Follow-up”).  I would concur that I have higher expectations for our course instructor than my fellow classmates, despite the fact that we are adult learners.  Most of my peers in this course have years of teaching experience.  I wonder how this course would be effected if few of us had a teaching background.

An Experimenter

I have many more questions than answers to becoming a facilitator in an online course, but I think I will just have to work through it with trial and error, something I’m encouraging my students to do as well.

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I am…

I am…

I’ve taken multiple learning style tests, particularly ones focused on multiple intelligences.  It always surprises me that I am visual, logical, and kinesthetic.  I always assumed that I would have a higher musical or auditory score and be terrible at kinesthetic learning.  I’ve been playing the classical violin since 4th grade and survived playing volleyball in high school only by sheer will power, but alas my mind prefers things I can touch rather than ones I can hear.  Perhaps, that is why I am such an avid note taker-if I don’t write it down and see it, I don’t retain it as well.

I can out pretty even on interpersonal vs. intrapersonal, but I have found through this course, that most of my work has been self-directed.  It isn’t surprising, but is a confirmation of what I already assumed.  Maybe that is why I have drifted so quickly to open education; there is peer-support, but it’s extremely asynchronous and most tasks require a lot of intrinsic motivation.  I can spend hours researching typeface or cholera because I’m intensely curious.  Reiss’s Basic Desire Profile even lists curiosity as one of 16 factors that intrinsically motivate.

Curious

Despite listing curiosity as a factor, Reiss doesn’t believe that all children are or should be curious and that curiosity doesn’t always motivate student learning.  “Not everyone is naturally curious,” Reiss said. “A child may be very smart, but still not be interested in school. But our educational system cannot deal with the idea that there is someone who cannot enjoy learning and never will. Educators are making a mistake when they think all children were born with more or less equal potential to enjoy learning” (“New Theory of Motivation Lists 16 Basic Desires that Guide Us”).  Luckily, there are 15 other things that motivate us according to Reiss, but some courses (open ones) do require a lot of intrinsic motivation and often a sense of curiosity to find and interact with OER.

Self-Hugging

Reiss also references the term “self-hugger,” which I think I suffer from, in which I try to see others through my lens instead of their own.

“Reiss uses the term “self-hugging” to describe the assumption that what is potentially best for me is potentially best for everyone. “Using self-hugging, we think that workaholics would be happier if they worked less, even though workaholics say they are happy as they are,” he said.

The failure to understand individual differences causes problems in everything from marital relationships to co-worker interactions. “People know that other people have different values and pursuits, but they cannot understand how this can be. Self-huggers waste enormous effort trying to change people who do not want to be changed.””

Do instructors need to make at least some assumptions of their students’ needs before they start their course?  Will it be online, traditional, or blended?  Open or not?  Independent study, lecture, collaborative, etc?   I’m choosing to make my course online, open, and largely independent with some collaborative aspects.  Is it because I’m “self-hugging?”

Should every class be for every student?

Or are the instructor and student “self-hugging” towards the familiar?

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Approaching non-linear learning?

Why am I doing what I am doing?

This week’s reflection assignment asked, “Why do you do the things the way that you do?”  When designing my own course, I am following the directions.  I wonder how much I will influence my own students’ course work based on the directions and constraints I give or what I leave out.  Will the badge ecosystem they create just be a copy of the one I give as an example?  It’s interesting that the course I am developing has almost the exactly the same format as the one I am taking.  Am I not being creative enough?  Even the courses for observation-French 101, Developmental Psychology, and Principles of Management-follow the same structure.

Does the course have to be linear?

I wonder if there are courses that don’t follow the linear model. Ones that use concept mapping instead of a step model.  Ones that let students work longer on the tasks they need more information on and shorter on the ones they “get.”  What would students gain or lose from exploring what they need to know when they need to know it rather than being told what to do next?  It’s not just flipping Blooms (its concepts still have a lot of value), but breaking it apart so that the learning can come in any order.  Edna Sackson writes, “To me, it’s not so much flipping  as about rethinking altogether.  Learning isn’t linear.  It’s not a step by step, one size fits all process.  It doesn’t go in a sequence from remembering to understanding to analysing… and finish with creating.  And it doesn’t necessarily have to go in the reverse order either.  It depends on the learner and on the situation.”  Learning is messy.

 What is the best way to use the online environment? 

The web creates a multi-dimensional environment that lets us zoom in and out, build up and out, but I think I still am approaching learning as a linear, static, textbook “read chapter one, then two, then three.”  Ken Carroll writes, “Textbooks, curricula, and our educational system itself are the products of a mechanistic past.  School knowledge is pre-determined by a centralized authority, and delivered in a linear format to a mass audience. The system is standardized, mass produced, scheduled, etc. In the classroom, the emphasis has been on teaching – it is expected that the learning will simply follow.”  The research suggests that e-learning should in particular, non-linear, especially since so much of the focus should be on peer-to-peer learning, which may not happen by module (“Interactive Nonlinear Learning Environments”).  Are there things that Moodle (or even Angel, per the courses for observation) can do that don’t replicate this structure?  I think that for the most part, I am doing the things this way because I am following the directions and doing what’s next, but I wonder if there is another way.

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The Helps Desk Plays an Important Role in Online Courses

What have I learned that I did not know before?

After watching “Keys to Success,” I realized I had forgotten to consider that the technologies I chose for my course may or may not be supported by the IT help desk or even what the help desk may be like (though I don’t know where this course will be).  In the screencast Professor Pickett discusses that campuses must have a technical help desk, instruction designers (even if the faculty develop the courses themselves), and training initiatives.

There are many different types of help desks on college campuses: internal, external, ticketing, telephone, etc. (“Keeping the IT Help Desk In-House”).  One of the problems with internal, college-supported help desk is that office hours may not align with online students’ schedules, particularly on Sundays (“Expanding the Help Desk”).  If I create an online course with elements of technology, I need to also think of a plan when the technology fails or when students need help.  If they cannot reach the help desk on the day before an assignment is due (e.g. a Sunday), what should I do?  If I say “ make sure you do all of your work well ahead of time”, that may place unrealistic expectations on those students who are taking distance, online courses for work- or family- related reasons and depend on the weekends to do homework.  Must they then only work on course work when they know the help desk will be open, taking some of the flexibility out of the course?  I wonder what the instructor’s responsibility is regarding tech problems.  Am I a mini-help desk or will students be required to find their own solutions? (“Help Yourself Help Desks”).  Should I be referring students to the help desk when they can’t install Flash or talk them through it myself?

Pickett continues to suggest that course designers and online students need “robust, reliable, stable networks and technology” and “resources and support in a variety of media.”   Although I automatically think of the student who doesn’t have access to the internet at home or doesn’t have a computer, I forget that there are internal problems in the college (a server crash) that could shut down the Moodle course for a period of time or unstable internet access for students who need to use the labs.   College campus are currently trying to move to wireless networks as 51% of US colleges and universities are attempting to make the wireless upgrade (“Wireless Network Upgrades Will Be Top Priority in 2012”).  Without wireless access most mobile or eLearning devices can no longer access the internet without a data plan, which makes it impossible or extremely expensive for students to use such devices.   Creating substantial course requirements that depend on these types of interactions (e.g. Twitter) could be unfeasible on campuses without WiFi or in rural areas.

How will I apply what I have learned to my course?

I still want to use technology in my courses, but am concerned that any future IT departments will not have the support personal or infrastructure to help students.  I hope by offering a variety of technological choices in my course assignments (PowerPoint, VoiceThread, etc.) students will be able to find one that works on their computer.  Many campuses only support a limited number or applications, and I wonder how difficult it will be to ask them to support the ones I want to use in my course, especially considering that the IT expenditures are predicted to increase at a slower pace in 2012 than previous years.

What is working for me?

Other than a few problems trying to link to PDFs in Diigo-for which I found a work around on Google somewhere and a weird time limit problem posting to the forum, I haven’t had many problems with the technology and haven’t had to call the UAlbany help desk.  I prefer to fumble around until I figure something out and most of the technology I had previously used.  I will have to read other students’ blogs to see what problems they have run into and if they are of an IT help desk, internet access, or computer system nature.
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What makes a course an online course? Does it need to be visually interesting?

What makes a course an online course?

After looking at the course examples, I was wondering what makes a face-to-face course different from an online course.  Is it just that the course is on the internet instead of in the classroom?  I have learned that there a variety of online course types, from the traditional to the blended to the fully-technologically immersed.  In the French 101 course, for example, it seems to focus on workbook activities and written assignments.  In the first module, there is only one assignment that includes multi-media, and it is listening to an audio file.  For students who prefer traditional classroom activities or want an easy transition from the classroom to the online classroom, this type of class might be the perfect fit.  Then in the “What Works?” presentation Professor Pickett states, “Learning design is about creating rich robust teaching and learning opportunities.”  I always assumed that online courses had to be filled with technology, but there are many ways to develop an online course.  Pickett continues, “Good online instruction is independent of software,” which make me rethink a few of the expectations I had when viewing the sample courses.

Our course, however, fits with my technological expectations: many new programs to try, a bunch of choices for peer-to-peer engagement, and lots of audio/video components.  Although, I can see where learning to tweet, blog, post, and VoiceThread would be overwhelming to some, it excites me more than a paper-based class uploaded into a LMS; and this study and this study support that the most gains in online classroom learning from F2F learning were in areas where these technologies were present, even if they required extra experience.  I find that I mostly interact in the forum and blog posts, but would like to use VoiceThread more and wish that Twitter was integrated somehow (it’s such a fun medium).  Though, if I was using Twitter to interact in the course, I would want to create a new handle that wasn’t associated with my professional tweets to have slightly more private and free conversations.

Does it need to be visually interesting?

In the “17 Elements of Good Online Course Design” Doug Madden suggests, “Material presented on the web should be compatible with the course type. If chalkboard work, slides, and other visuals would be important in a classroom version of the course, web materials should include a lot of graphic images.”  Once I am finished with my course development, I want to go through and make sure that I have enough .JPEGs and video clips to make the course visually interesting (I’ll have to figure out how to embed in Moodle first).  I played around with a few of the themes and settled on one that looked polished-the grey metal.  “Best Practices for Creating Online Courses” writes that learners often look at images on a page first, and instructors should think about adding an images that “tell” or “explain” what the information on the page will be about.  I think that is a great suggestion, and it is something neither the French 101 or Developmental Psychology course did.  Since the research suggests that visual interest improves course outcomes, and it seems to fit in with the audio/visual components of a digital bagding course, I will be adding images to my modules-of course,  CC-BY ones, to keep in the spirit of open education.
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Creating the Perfect Balance: Course Interaction

There seems to be a lot of areas in which the course developer/instructor needs to achieve the correct balance.  For example, there is a balance between having too much instructor involvement-where students don’t bond with each other or are scared of discussion for fear of the grading system vs. not enough instructor or student interaction, where the student doesn’t feel connected to the course.

Too Much or Too Little Interaction?

In the reading, “Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teachers?.” Scorza discusses the  the need to provide empathy for students through instructor involvement in the course; “This leaves online instructors with the challenge of developing pedagogical strategies for avoiding one kind of desensitization (found in the alienating online environment).”  There is research, however, that indicates that a balance is what is truly needed, not just interaction for the sake of interaction.  “Is There Too Much Interaction in Your Online Course,” suggests that there may be a level at which increased teacher and student interaction is too time consuming and overwhelming.  There are also places that exist through open courseware and videos that don’t include any (or very minimal) instructor interaction.  The Stanford AI Course is close to the dark future of online learning that Scorza warns of; in this model a computer grades many of the quizzes and tests and students cannot individually contact the instructors.  Yet, 23,000 students completed the course and 248 scored 100% (New York Times).  Perhaps, this model doesn’t work for every student, but it may be enough for some.  I will need to carefully consider the learning goals and needs of each student, perhaps with an introductory survey, and adapt to the changing environment of the course to make sure that I am helping students progress, but am not overwhelming them with direction.

This discussion grading rubric may create the balance between instructor interaction and the student space to define their own learning objectives in the course.  Sample Three from WPI might be another possibly as it isn’t quite as specific, and possibly, time consuming for the students (and for the instructor) as the other examples listed.

Design of My Course

I also like the idea of having a “safe space” as mentioned in “Do online Students Dream of Electric Teachers?” for students to discuss the course without instructor intervention.  I hope to have an Elluminate room that will allow for un-graded student interaction.  This will also allow students to speak to each other through microphones/speakers or through a video connection.  The article suggests that “many advocate increased use of technologies like video-conferencing that will allow learners and instructors to interact with one another in real time.”

This also follows the suggestions in the reading, “A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them.”  It still allows for most of the course interaction to be counted in the grade, as suggested in “The Ineffective Interaction,” while creating a community for the students to foster a sense of belonging, social networking, and trust as suggested in “The Scarcity of Classroom Community.”  I miss the ability and opportunity to chat casually with students in an online course the same way I would before or after a F2F course, even if it doesn’t directly relate to my learning.  I could use twitter, but it too public of a forum (I use it for my professional life, too).

My Experience So Far and How it Will Shape the Course I Develop

It is interesting that the number of posts per module decreased this week from 12 to 6 due to the larger than usual number of students in the course.  I’m glad that I found research that supports this change; that the quality of interaction is more important than the quantity as it helps me analyze how I will structure the interaction in my course.  I much prefer taking the time to build on a few topics of discussion, rather than the overwhelming number in the first module.  It is also much easier to look up the threads when they are split into to question categories.  I will definitely use question categories to organize the discussion in my modules. It is nice to see how well it is working in the course.

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