Google Docs, Wallwisher, and Skype are three of the collaborative conversation sites I've used in the classroom. One of the workstations include a slideshow that students work together on. Each group accesses the slideshow, reads the directions and works on their part of the slideshow. Wallwisher can be used anytime during a unit. It is quick and easy to post a question for discussion and have the kids respond. My kids use just their first name. The answers can be used as assessments for comprehension. My goal this year was to use Skype as a way to bring working parents into the classroom. I set up a schedule where parents could read a loud to the class from a computer anywhere. My hope was working parents could use part of their lunch break to read a story to the kids on Skype. Sadly this did not catch on the way I had hoped but I will continue to try because I like the idea.
I believe all technology encourages more participation from kids due to the fact that the activities usually have the kids seeing, hearing, and doing.