I'm working on the online version of Nature in Lit, and I've hit a pedagogic snag. In most weeks, there are two separate discussion boards--sometimes three or four. Initially, I was asking students to 1) Do their own initial post of approx. 250 words, 2) comment approx. 100 words on two other students' posts, and 3) do a follow up to their own initial post (either a response to someone else's comment or simply their own further ideas), also about 100 words--and I wanted them to do that for each discussion board. But I think that's too much. I think it's better to keep their own initial posts--no matter how many boards they have to respond to--at 250 words, but either require fewer words in the comments/follow-ups or make the requirement for comments/follow-ups a weekly requirement, rather than for each individual discussion board.
The problem is, I really do want them to have a "discussion" about each reading. I can group things by the same author, but--for example--I want them to read an extract from William Bartram's Travels and an extract from Alexander Wilson's American Ornithology the same week they also read extracts from de Crevecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer and his Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America. I can put the extracts from De Crevecoeur's two pieces together, but I really feel students should respond to Bartram and Wilson separately...
Clearly it's time to lie down and read something that has nothing to do with work.