This is a complicated issue but there's no doubt it should be seriously thought about; could 'online schools' become established as a significant part of the educational sector in the coming years? While it may be easy to scoff at the idea, I can see how in poor countries, where schools are not established as bricks and mortar, online schools may well be a saviour. The "Hole-in-the-wall"
concept has meant that children from very poor backgrounds in India have had access to quality teaching via the internet. Social networks have formed around places of internet access and communities have come together to learn. This surely is a very good thing.
This said, in Western countries, the concept of the online school could lead to the reverse effect; communities which come together in local schools could be fragmented because children stay at home and learn on their computers. Fiona Millar spoke eloquently about this at the Spectator conference. There's no doubt that for-profit schools, keen to make as much money as possible, and save on the expensive overheads of running physical schools will push this idea forcibly.
It is worth listening to Fiona Millar's reply to a question about this here:
Her full talk on for-profit schools can be found here: