I would hate to assume that this week's class was a better one simply because Howard was here in Michigan ... isn't the point of distance learning so that you can learn, although you are distant? The awkwardness of carrying a discussion was still present; I hate the fact that students must raise their hands to add to it, but I think a lot of that is just me. (Although hand-raising is a convention of "politeness," I feel that it makes most discussions a bit unnatural through its imposition of order ... where I went to high school and college I had small classes where no one raised their hands ... discussions seemed to flow better and be less disjointed than when someone must save a point -- especially to make it on camera, in the space of a two-minute sound bite. And yeah, we are speaking in sound bites in this class.) In ILS 609, it is imperative that students raise their hands (especially when Howard is cross-country from them), in order to be noticed by the camera person.
I also think it is interesting that in a sense, the person really running ILS 609 is not Howard, but rather, the camera person on either end. This person decides whether we, on the other coast, need to view the student speaker close up, or if a pan of the entire class is appropriate. Howard cannot see who wishes to speak, and thus call on anyone, unless the camera person picks him/her up. In our case, the camera people are members of the class, but it doesn't always need to be that way; perhaps in other distance learning classes the camera person/controller may have absolutely no interest in what is being said.
I made myself speak this week; I'm not quite sure how I did it either, because usually I don't speak that much even in "regular" classes. I just felt as though speaking was (were?) something I had to do, and in a sense it didn't matter what I had to say ... and *that* disappointed me too. I wonder if others felt as I did. I wonder when the "camera/eye" effect will wear off, and when we can get down to saying real things and going on at length about them, instead of making our two minutes of camera focus just a way of letting the other class know that we exist.