Don't worry, I will not insult your intelligence by attempting to explain the obvious. We all know why college administrators are enamored of online teaching, and there is no need to reiterate their reasons to force the teaching faculty into offering a growing number of such Internet-based courses. What I want to discuss today is why college professors might be tempted to teach such courses even when it is self-evident that they are immeasurably less efficient than traditional classroom teaching.
Online teaching is attractive to the college professors for a variety of reasons. For one, it's easy. You can unload a bunch of PowerPoints on Blackboard, set up several multiple-choice mini-quizzes on one of those websites that will even calculate the grade for you, and forget about the whole thing. It is very easy to organize such a course technologically so that it will practically run itself. Of course, not everybody who does online teaching ends up doing it this way. Some educators work very hard to salvage whatever they can even in the anti-intellectual online format. The temptation, however, is there. Also, the administrators tend to push forcefully towards the PowerPoints combined with online mini-quizzes version of online teaching.
Another reason that one might be tempted to move a significant part of one's teaching load online is that it will liberate one from the necessity to be on campus. For those of us who hate the bureaucratic aspect of our profession this might be a godsend. Whenever you come to campus, you tend to get sucked into the insanity of endless - and endlessly useless - meetings, repetitive discussions apropos of nothing, and paper-pushing activities of the completely useless variety. Many people thrive in this environment of mushrooming red tape. There are those of us, however, who hate wasting time on such activities while we could be spending it doing our research instead. As I mentioned before, keeping the office door closed is one of the best thing a beginning academic could do to boost their research career. The problem with that strategy, however, is that people will figure out that you are hiding in there and will find a way to extract you from the office and place you in the midst of yet another useless meeting.
Eventually, the idea of going to the campus as little as possible as the only way of getting any significant research done will occur to many a professor. And it's a very short road from there to the idea of taking up online teaching. Currently, the only two ways of achieving any tangible degree of success in our profession are either producing a lot of research or, if you turn out to be a complete failure at that but still want to have some job security and control over your life, becoming an administrator. As you can see, teaching simply doesn't make the list. As I was told by a pretty high-ranking college administrator at a place "the name of which I have no desire to call to mind": "Nobody cares about your teaching. As long as you can drag yourself to class most of the time in a marginally sober state, nobody gives a damn how your teaching goes. All you need to do is publish and forget about everything else." Since then, I have heard this sentiment reiterated by another high-ranking administrator at another place the name of which I also have no desire to recall. If you hear such statements often enough, you are quite likely to reduce your teaching to a bunch of online courses and dedicate yourself to the only thing that matters, which is research.