Here is a great website about the intersection of education and the internet. One of the concerns of the main author is that educational institutions are ill-prepared to cope with the hurricane of new media information as well as potential new online approaches to teaching.
This is a really fascinating topic partly because for hundreds thousands of years formal education has languished under the province of a priestly class of educators operating pretty much in the same fashion since the Greeks introduced the professor to student lecture model of teaching. Although it’s not a *bad* model, I’d strongly suggest we could do a lot better, especially given the plethora of new online tools readily on hand at no cost to almost everybody.
Where an old, legacy class about global markets would dredge up boring examples from dated textbooks, a new class could use real time stock information such as the Archipelago bidding environment, currency quotes, breaking news, and so much more. In science students should be actively participating in blogs specializing in topics like Global Warming, artificial intelligence, and biology as well as interacting with other students around the globe.
A professor friend of mine who taught an online accounting class said there were challenges with the lack of personal contact, but benefits from student interaction and the fact he could answer the same predictable questions with an FAQ rather than having to deal with them over and over, basically freeing up more time for individualized instruction on the complicated topics.
As with so many online topics education is evolving rapidly within the rapidly evolving overall environment, so it is very hard to predict where things will wind up. However I think it’s easy to say there is a lot of potential for improvements on the current outmoded lecture models, and the internet kitchen is cooking up new solutions every day.