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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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The Verdict

During this project I felt the shadow of the Thoreau who saw that all the new technology of the trans-Atlantic cable might yield would be news that Princess Adelaide had the whooping cough.  It is not bad to have Thoreau on your shoulder in a project like this, however.  He keeps you honest.  But I can say with my experiment as he of his at Walden, that it met "with a success unexpected in common hours."  By all student accounts, such as the following selections from the final survey and the clips, the project improved the discussion board for students in the ways that I had hoped:

  • "Normally, other students have very little to do with my own learning process.  Most times, the other students in class are only though of as the ones you need to be sure to beat on the next test.  They are the ones that determine the curve, and therefore how well you do in class. This class is the only class I can think of that makes the other students a learning tool for the class.  Listening to and understanding other students comments helped me better understand the books we were working on.  Their insight helped me look at things differently."
  • "In the begining you go to your computer or the library's or what have you, and you stare at the screen.  You read the book.  You have time to post.  But there is that huge writer's block.  Da worst.   The 'five eyes' document was most helpful in writing posts.  It gave you something to think about and helped structure what you were doing.  I have it printed out here right next to me and am going to use it in my classes next semester."
  • "The response options doc. was really helpful in the posting process.  Leaning towards those 'higher level' posts made me think more, which is where the creativity comes in.  Anyone can make a post at those first levels rather effortlessly, and they usually end up being a boring read while leaving no direction for anyone hoping to respond.  Those upper level posts require much more thought, which leads to better posts and something for others to think about."
  • "Im definately a better poster, as is everyone.  As the course moved on, I began to understand more clearly of what was expected from my post.  Armed with all the documents in the course document and course information folders, my posts began to provoke more thought from my group members."
  • "I don't know if I'm a better poster now than at the beginning of the course, but I do think my posts changed throughout the course.  In the beginning I think my posts tended to be more like mini essays.  I thought them through a lot and tried to organize and support my ideas.  Toward the end, I think I tried to write more freely and was definitely more conscious of trying to provide something for people to respond to.  I think my posts at the end were more like a conversation rather than just putting my ideas out there."