First, it is so important for me to collaborate with my students because that is how they learn. It is not by the direct instruction I do, but by the one-on-one instruction and interaction. "By inserting comments directly into the document you are reading, you offer the writer a chance to go back to those comments over and over again" (Hicks 38). This is so true because as we all know, we don't always remember what someone says verbally; we need it written. Thus, the written feedback is so valuable.
Additionally, using the technology is hip. Right now, if you start using the technology and teaching the students, you ARE the expert in the classroom. I have students creating websites. They have TONS of questions; they don't know as much as the experts think they do. Yes, they are very creative, and yes, they have the ability to do fantastic things. However, they don't know HOW to do them using technology. My journalism students are so engaged each and every day while they are creating their websites. They are not grousing about writing; they are embracing it because they are doing it in such a unique and modern way.
Finally, conferencing online allows me flexibility. I can comment on a document during my prep, at night, or on the weekend. If the student goes online anytime after that, s/he will see my feedback, and it is immediate. No longer do students have to wait for you to pass back papers. Additionally, if you see the same issues with many papers, you can copy and paste the comment. You can't do that when you are handwriting the comments.
As you all know, I embrace technology. I don't claim to know everything, but I do know a lot. However, I am always learning more. I think the key is to pick one thing that you think will enhance your students' learning, and then become an expert at the one thing. You can always add other items along the way, but I think it is easier to stick with one thing until you are so comfortable that you can add other items. For example, I am having my journalism students create websites, which is new to me, but I only have 9 students. Conversely, I have 55 English students, so I don't have them creating the websites until I know exactly what I want them to create and why. Will I eventually have my English students creating websites? Maybe. Maybe not.