MOOCs may save the world, or at least US higher education. But I think it goes far deeper than that.
I think many (though not all) high school classes are well-suited to an online teaching setting. Given that a new public high school costs A FREAKIN’ TON of money and that once they are built, if the population goes down they are just a very expensive ashtray for a non-smoker, it only makes sense that many or most high school classes be taught online, where there is far more flexibility. The current system is expensive and makes good sense for elementary education, but not so much for high school education. It makes even less sense for college.
The issue is that such a plan threatens the entrenched high school teacher system. Yes, it makes total sense. But the teachers unions are powerful and with this plan means I can teach 70 students as well as I can teach 20. But when cents starts to count, you can bet what will happen, and high school teachers won’t like it. Right now there is just relatively high pay and very high benefits. But that cannot last forever. You could double the pay and increase quality of the teacher (hire far fewer high school teachers), increase quality in general, and avoid expensive building projects if classes were primarily online.