Is this an oxymoron? Quality online education?
Many colleges and universities are diving into the fray of free online education, including Stanford, which is offering a slate of 17 free online classes this summer, classes that include actual grades (although not credit; you have to enroll, be accepted and pay $40-50,000 for that).
Access to education is not consistent; many countries in the world have little, if any, local schooling. Online classes could be an answer.
Then again, maybe not. If there are no schools, what is the guarantee that there is technology? There are programs that are trying to get laptops with imbedded satellite internet capabilities to every child on the globe, but this dream will take time and money to fulfill.
Other issues in the push for online education are that the education being pushed is a predominently western one, with western ideals of what being educated means, including the manner in which education is delivered and the content of that education. Perhaps the best candidate for online education at this point is the one who doesn't need it: from a developed country, motivated and with the resources to make best use of the delivery model.
Still, all of these ideas are tools to be incorporated. Now that Sal Khan's methodology has been debunked just a little (the debate skews to the side of no research on its effectiveness and the fact that a teacher is missing), the education establishment is looking a little more closely at the design of online classes and trying to figure out ways to make it more inclusive and accessible to the wide variety of students who could potentially benefit from it.
This is a good thing, and the development of more options for students bears watching.