I think your thought of “adding 6 mandatory discussions (every two weeks)…” would be a helpful addition to the course. I realize that our Thursday night discussions were an “add-on” to the course but I have to admit I really felt some things “clicked” for me as I was listening, reading and contributing to the discussions. I think once I got passed the initial awkwardness of talking to my computer (like others, I need the non verbals!), it was okay. Of course, this discussion would have to be offered at different times through out the class to accommodate those in other time zones.