I agree with Jeff’s concluding comment, “Like all tools, online conferencing software has its place and when judiciously combined with other tools and resource, they can be an effective tool in teaching.” I don’t think this tool should be used to teach the entire course, but it could be used for a change of pace and/or if a particular topic is so important that this is the best way to cover it. I took a business and technical writing course in an ITV setting (I realize lecture ware is different) and it wasn’t too bad. The professor was linked to three satellite campuses and we did presentations along with discussion. I think it was effective. This professor called on students who appeared to be napping or otherwise disengaged, which had the effect of keeping most everyone alert. This type of situation allows the instructor to relinquish the amount of control he or she deems necessary.
The capacity to do breakout sessions with lecture ware would be interesting. Facilitators could arrange partner and group work among people who may never actually see each other in person. The “live” interaction would enhance the learning experience. If the software is used solely for lecturing with an instrutor endlessly talking, it would probably not be a real interesting way to learn.