This article in the NY Times backs up what Don Tapscott (1998) and this post of mine (and this, and this)have noted earlier: online learning may not merely be a substitute for, but actually superior to, conventional classroom education.
The article says that it is the increasingly faster connections and interactive web 2.0 tools that are responsible for the enhanced utility of a “virtual class“:
Until fairly recently, online education amounted to little more than electronic versions of the old-line correspondence courses. That has really changed with arrival of Web-based video, instant messaging and collaboration tools.
It also points out the way education is individualized on the web:
The real promise of online education, experts say, is providing learning experiences that are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms. That enables more “learning by doing,” which many students find more engaging and useful.
And the classroom teachers who might be displaced? My advice is rather than fret the demise of the old, start gearing up for the new. Learn coaching and consulting skills. Immerse yourself (for some reasonable period of the day/week) in learning online. How else to show the young how the newer tools can be used to service the ancient human practice of (insert discipline)?