This is an interesting essay written by a faculty member at Elon. She talks about her first experience teaching an online course and the challenges and benefits that came with it. She addresses a lot of the issues that are common to discussions surrounding distance ed and helped me see that not everything I believed about online courses is true.
One of the most interesting things that she mentioned is that "students can learn just as effectively online as in a traditional classroom, with some tweaks." She mentions a few of those "tweaks", but I was left wondering what the key factors are that make an online course meaningful. I have never taken an online course or taught one, but I can imagine that there is potential for that sort of class to be something less than desirable (but I guess the same could be said for traditional courses as well).
Might "blended" learning environments be a good hybrid? It seems like this allows for elements of both types of learning environments to be capitalized on and maximized.