For me, there have always been pros and cons to online classes. The pro category is mostly the flexibility aspect. It's hard to compete with. But honestly, there are many cons, and I see them as a college instructor AND as a student. There's something to be said for interactions between the teacher and their class, and online classes lose that authenticity. However, one of the biggest issues surrounding online education is who benefits from it. It would be naive to assume that every student would benefit from an online class, because, well.....no two students are alike. While teachers must do the best they can for the largest number of students, students who struggle in college end up on the losing side. They aren't challenged, there is no personal interaction with the teacher, and the class structure can cause problems.
In Susan Dynarski's New York Times article, "Online Courses are Harming the Students who Need Help the Most," the author takes a brief glance at the reality behind online education for those students who do not excel in college. While backing up her story with recent data, Dynarski tells us that the main issue for these students who are less academically proficient is the lack of teacher-student interaction. These students need encouragement, and face-to-face classes are exceptionally better at providing this for them.
While proficient students who excel in college tend to do better in online classrooms, it is hard for teachers to balance out the needs of both. Dynarski suggests that the research behind "blended" classes (a hybrid of both online and in-person classes) is something that needs to be looked at. These classes could bring positives to both groups of students, and that is something we should be focusing on---giving a fair shot to every student.
For more information on this subject, see Susan Dynarski's article: Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help - The New York Times