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The interim step between education today and reformed education tomorrow; reintroducing debate through digital communication...

As I'm sure many would agree, the currently accepted approach to teaching higher education is beginning to show some serious cracks. Reform seems an ultimately inevitable step toward restoring a working, pragmatic value to these dated institutions of learning, and the big question is certainly what shape these reformation initiatives might take.
Well, I'm not immediately concerned with the ultimate destination, I'm interested in the intermediary. Overhauling deeply established, centuries-old institutional systems in not something that can be done swiftly (well, at least not easily). But there is something we can do:

Reintroduce earnest debate and discussion into the classroom.

I know this probably sounds to many like a fairly obvious angle of attack, and to many others a course that would prove all but impossible with the ballooning number of students crammed into State College lecture halls each year. But I think the potential to truly reignite broad debate and discussion in the classroom has only recently been made achievable again through technology.

One of my most memorable college classes, and certainly one of the most valuable to me, was structured in such a way that we students were required to make contributions to a shared digital public forum, as well as post responses to the contributions of others.

We were guided by the material, but more importantly we were forced to consider it, attack it, and defend it. I strongly believe this is one way educational institutions could encourage a more dynamic and encouraging learning environment, and one which may make possible the later, larger scale changes for a more complete reform.

Could this be possible? Plausible? At all valuable? Is there a better way to encourage the discussion of class material? Have you personally benefited from a similar approach or, if not, do you think you might have?