(Link back to teachingopen source: RIT teaching open source POSSE )
Assignment: Comment on using online synchronous communication as opposed to face to face communication:
I've been using IRC (or IM if with just one person) for a few months now. We started an IRC for WeBWorK some time last year. IRC and chat have good pace for asking questions as you are setting up a new piece of software. It is slow enough and just asynchronous enough so that you can perform a few setup steps before coming back and asking the next question without feeling like you are taking up your mentor's time as they wait for you. The mentor can get work done also, with occasional breaks to see whether anyone needs help.
It's biggest disadvantage (usually) is that it is disjointed and ephemeral, so unless you explicitly save the conversation you can't refer to it later when you have to do the setup again. Even if you do save it, considerable editing is usually required before you can post it as a FAQ (or sometimes even understand it. :-) )