I’ve been grabbling with this question for quite some time now. Influenced by this book as well as my own journey into a hybrid teaching situation, I’m more and more convinced answering the question, "what is face to face good for?" is one of the most important in education today.
With the advent of technology and distance learning, I’ve stood in front of teachers and administrators many times and asked them to consider why their students would choose to come to school. While the quality of distance learning is far from perfect, it offers the opportunity for students to learn with and from anyone at anytime. With more and more choice students will start asking if they really need to come to class. At the same time, it’s hard to deny what it means to learn in the same physical space. Notice I was careful to say "learn". Many people take for grant it that students will come to school simply to socialize and enjoy extra-curricular activities with others. I say that’s not good enough. Learning has to be social, otherwise why come to school?