My biggest hunch surrounding online learning is that it is going to be very difficult to keep students on track if they are not engaging in something that is meaningful to them. This would also apply in a brick and mortar school, but I think the difference is that you have a constant reminder of what you are supposed to be doing in the physical presence of your peers and teachers that is lacking in online courses. It seems very easy to get discombobulated, and lose track of what one is doing if their heart is not in it.
I have not had any experience teaching in an online class, and I’m finding that when I reflect on my practice, a lot of the things that I value the most in my teaching come from the physical presence of myself and my students in the classroom. I enjoy being able to interact with a group of kids at the same time, without the intrusion of a screen, and the distraction of the world wide web just a mouse click away. I enjoy the subtleties in communication that come from developing a trusting relationship with someone. I enjoy being able to seize on a teachable moment and direct my kids to something that has challenged us, or piqued our interest. While not able to know for sure, it still seems as though online communication offers a mere fabrication of what you can achieve socially in a classroom. I’m still not sure what the solution to this is, or if there is such a fix that can bring online learning up to the level of interaction I see in my classrooms. Most likely this is not what online learning should be. I suspect that the way it will be most effectively be used is a way to make connections between ideas, and not necessarily between people.