Teaching online is a very popular concept. I use it to teach English as a Second Language. Skype or any Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) program is essential. Most instant messenging programs (YahooIM, MSN Messenger, etc.) offer this functionality.
There are other Internet technologies that are also useful. User groups or message forums (Google Groups for example) are popular. The teacher begins a “written discussion” and the students contribute. These groups are similar to blogs where the blog author starts a conversation and readers share their comments and thoughts.
Blogs and wikis are great for year-long projects. The class or teacher chooses a topic, for example, the weather. Students can write about how the weather affects their community, weather in other countries, learn about hurricanes, and so on. They can also take pictures of interesting weather-related or weather-affected events.
You may want your students to create a blog about their community. They can attend town or city government meetings and other events. Its a great way to get them involved in the community.
Blogs are great for showing how students’ writing improves over time. They also teach writers about discipline. Having to write 3 or 4 interesting entries a week is a great skill, especially for students that want careers in journalism.
I love wikis. A wiki (like Wikipedia) allows students to collaborate. They can edit existing material or create new material. This tool allows students to create “their own textbooks.” For example, an English class can write their own “grammar book” or a history class can write a “book” about the American Revolution, based on the material they learn from class and student assignments.
Technology provides many opportunities for education. Like any tool, book or website, the learning value depends on how well the tool is used.