One is teaching members the skills to conduct virtual meetings with a dispersed group of teens;
Google Hangout seems to be the most reliable of the free VC platforms. It works on all operating systems and smartphones.
Skype works ok. But I find that it sometimes has data collisions.
Teens love Facetime. But that is Mac dependent as far as a computer goes, and iphone dependent vis a vis smartphones. But I’m sure
Android et al have a similar facility.
second is how do you incorporate interactivity in discussion as well as some type of investigation? What works and for which kinds of topics?
There are many, many, solutions that have more interactive bells and whistles. I like Saba, http://www.saba.com
One common feature is where the moderator take control of the desktop, where questions can be asked w/o interrupting a speaker, polls can be taken in situ, etc, etc.
But probably our best bet is to use a WordPress plugin of which there are several. My thinking here is predicated on the idea that the TSCN will implement WordPress/Buddypress collaboration website. They folks at WPMU seem to keen on Video Whisper. I find their advice to always be quite solid, and their customer service vis a vis maintaining a WP site is great. Important they are the same people that do eduBlogs, so they have a sense of what’s needed to run a collaborative blog network in an educational context. This particular plugin, and probably others like it, require more than just the usual hosting solution. If we implement this via the TSCN website there might have to be hosting upgrade to something like WPEngine.
third how do you use these same tools and potentially these same events to build a virtual teen community that takes on a life of its own?
A potential problem is that if the teens do not have access to broadband, then all of this will be very difficult to implement.