This year, because of scheduling issues, I was really having a difficult time setting appropriate office hours that would work for my students and I. Following the excellent advice of my 2.0 friends, I decided to initiate a Facebook Group chat as a shared, public office hour instead.
I am here to report that it worked WONDERFULLY!!!! At least 13 students participated in the conversation - several of whom decided to help each other out afterwards. Though the conversation was somewhat superficial - its early in the semester after all - I also felt like "lurkers" and quiet members were able to benefit from overheard advice and assignment clarifications.
In my pre-virtual, brick-and-mortar office hour, I occasionally saw one or two students for lengthy discussions....or brief ones. Many times, I saw no one. This method increases the amount of contact I have with students, and that's got to be a good thing :)