The first distance course I was involved in used multi-way satellite television broadcasts, which allowed students to attend from a distance and everyone on-site and at a distance to interact through video. Today, with multi-user conferencing options, such as Elluminate http://faculty.ccconline.org/index.php?title=Elluminate, and virtual worlds, such as Second Life http://faculty.ccconline.org/index.php?title=Second_Life_Information_and_Requirements, options abound for this sort of in-class synchronous interaction.
What stood out most in that early distance course was not the marvelous ability to interact across such great distances, but rather the detail possible with the news-quality camera we used to broadcast the artifacts from the anthropology "bones lab". Students on-site consistently remarked how they preferred to view the materials using the screen rather than with the naked eye. Today, I was reminded of those comments.
Google Earth http://earth.google.com/ is what reminded me. In particular, Google Earth's new project to bring art to the masses http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=56767. Using the zoom function, great works of art can be seen with unprecedented detail. This is but one of the many great uses of Google Earth for personal and class-related learning. Learn more about Google Earth and educational uses from for Geology, Math, Literature, Biology, and more from the Google Earth Educators http://www.google.com/educators/p_earth.html page.