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In the spring of 2001, an Introduction to Literature course was integrated with a Western Civilization II course, creating an honors learning community taught by two full-time Red Rocks Community College instructors. Of the eighteen students enrolled, approximately half were in the honors program. The hybrid course met twice a week for 2 1⁄2 classroom hours total (the typical hours for a traditional class); other course work was completed online.
The hybrid learning community presented a wonderful opportunity to utilize technology to enhance this unusual learning environment. The strength of the community turned out to be online discussions using WebCT, an online course delivery system. Student participation was extremely high, with over 50% of the class registering over 1,000 posts each. More important than quantity was the quality of discourse. Students embraced online anonymity to dialectically discuss controversial topics with deeper levels of analysis than found in traditional classroom discussions. Additionally, students broke out of old cliques and formed new online intellectual frie friendships.