When used appropriately, online education is a valuable tool which can add value to a whole range of educational efforts, according to one scholar.
Bryan LeBeau, an educator from the US, said that e-learning is at its best when conveying information appropriate to that medium to the specific segment of the population who are best prepared to learn from it, reports the Leavenworth Times.
In America, three-quarters of institutions offer online learning and the majority report that the courses are a success.
Mr LeBeau states that the future of learning is not purely online, but that it is a cohesive component of the educational system as it evolves and that it gives opportunity for developing online skills.
He predicts - with reference to a survey of colleges around the US - that in ten years' time, 50 per cent of students will be taking online classes.
The majority of the schools that said they were open to e-learning were public schools. In contrast, only 36 per cent of private institutions, compared to half of public schools, believe that online learning courses have the same value as those taught in classrooms.
Some 59 per cent of respondents who think the primary role of a college is to prepare students for the working world said that online classes provide the same educational value as in-person classes and are an important factor in preparing students for the real-life workplace.
Mr LeBeau also added that independent learning skills developed through e-learning will teach students to solve problems on their own without the immediate guidance of a teacher in the room.
However, many of the colleges commented that it was their duty as educational facilities to promote personal and intellectual growth, which is better sought in a classroom environment.
Colleges with religious affiliations are far less likely to offer courses via the internet, according to Mr LeBeau.
Mr LeBeau is the vice president for academic affairs at University of Saint Mary, Kansas and has held previous positions such as the dean at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He did American Studies at New York University.