Another interesting theme is the effort to establish lines of communication between teacher and class. Despite the increasing emphasis on the use of technology in education I see no diminution in the need for human interaction. In fact, the need seems even greater as we struggle to insure that all students have at least the same minimal skills for learning, which includes computer skills. The unspoken implication here is that without these skills there is a risk of creating a group of second-class citizens among our students; those who lack the basic skills to take full advantage of all the course resources. Those of us in public institutions are painfully aware of the enormous attrition rate among first-year students, a large part of which is due to students' lack of self confidence in the ability to do college-level work. This, in itself, would make for an interesting topic of discussion sometime.
Yes even here on Earth I've been reading. In fact I liked the idea of aplanetary overwview so much I've added a section like that to the first day of my Oceanography class.