Lecture, at least in my discipline, has become a bad word. When I think of lecture, I mostly remember those instructors I have had in the past that would pull out their typewritten (literally) notes and read them to the class. The good teachers didn't actually read the notes, but they did talk TO the class. We now try to avoid this type of lecturing and create classes where our students are taking an active role in their own learning. I have never been in a lecture auditorium, as the authors describe, nor do we many large classes at MiraCosta, so their argument to humanize the class is not very relevant, at least not to me. I also feel that heavily using discussion groups is not a good use of "class time", unless it is two students practicing dialogues. I do like the idea of posting a picture or video and having students comment on it, however, and am open to using a social networking site, such as Facebook or Ning.
As far as testing goes, I like the idea of making self-grading quizzes, especially embedding graphics. I have been planning my first online course and after talking with Pilar I have decided to make most of the quizzes credit/no credit to avoid a number of common problems. I don't know about you folks, but there is always something that seems to go wrong, either a student takes too long, they time out, something.
Good suggestion: Insist that students identify their main issue in the subject line of the email.
For online office hours and communication I plan on making use of Eluminate and making Jing videos. I plan on asking students to post audio and video presentations as well, though I may scale this back the first time or two I teach an online class (I will probably have enough other things to deal with).
Regarding the teaching of a blended course... I have taught a blended course twice, and not with great results, I must admit. I did learn a lot (the hard way). I really like the University of Utah model for teaching languages online. They divide the week into two virtual days and two f2f days. I think the thing that makes the program work so well is the design and prior preparation that they put into each course. Each day is carefully planned out well ahead of time (usually before the semester begins) and each class is somehow connected to the both the past class and the upcoming class. They also do much of their assessing through projects.