"Over the weekend, edX announced some changes to the features in their discussion forums, and the changes illuminate some interesting issues in student behavior, pedagogy, and instructional design.
"On the one hand, discussion forums are often seen as central to massive open online courses because in many courses it's really the only space where students can speak back to professors or one another. If you believe that one of the key resources for learning in MOOCs is the community, then forums are often the central site for community interaction. At the same time though, discussion forums are often one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of a MOOC experience for students. It's hard to have a functional conversation online with hundreds or thousands of people, and it's hard to find what you are looking for in sprawling threads."