I am teaching my first online course next semester. I am a bit nervous about it, but this article by Daniel Willingham gives me some encouragement.
The chief drawback of online schooling was equally obvious to me: The teacher-student relationship, funneled through an Internet connection, would necessarily suffer. How could a teacher really get to know students when all of the interactions were via email and webcams?
That disadvantage was obvious to me until I mentioned it, in passing, to a friend who is an online teacher. Her experience was the just the opposite. She felt that she knew her students better in an online environment than she had in a bricks-and-mortar school.
I was intrigued enough that I tracked down five other online teachers at different grade levels, all of whom had taught in traditional schools. They all reported the same feelings.
Once they explained the reasons, it seemed not only plausible, but obvious.