One of the amazing alternative to real face-to-face teaching and learning is constructing a course to deliver online. I think this really one of the easiest but at the same time toughest work to perform. Why? When you design course for real students, for meeting everyday or at least once per week you know the needs of your students, the objectives and all the stuff necessary to construct a course. But things become difficult with online courses. My partner and me are designing an online course for Armenian independent students. I can say putting my hand on my heart that this is really very difficult, because this is really a new experience not only for our group but for Armenia; because as far as i noticed Armenia does not have language learning online courses.
Anyway, about the distance learning, i am one of the livemocha.com members and i can say that learning any of worlds languages online really works. I got to learn basics of Italian language, and receive feedback directly from native speakers bot oral and written. Besides, many researches have been conducted to see the efficiency of distance learning.
The only problem with distance learning, is that students should be independent and should have satisfied knowledge of how to use technology.