Having just spent some time at a Community College and was successful in receiving my Associates to continue to a Traditional Four Year school, and being someone who needed to take Online Courses. The biggest problem that I had was that the instructors did not take it as seriously as their traditional classes. They would spend the face to face time in the classroom and even in their office. But they wouldn't spend the online time with their online students. I've instructors that stated they could be reached by email and there would be 48 hour turn around time, others stated that they would use Skype and even have office hours for that. But most of my emails were answered a week after I needed assistance. And forget about ever finding the instructor on Skype at the times they stated.
Now, the best online instructor I had ran a forum and that really worked. Everyone could see someone's questions and even respond to it but the biggest thing was that by each Saturday afternoon the instructor had responded as well. And if he felt that it was something that needed to be one on one, we would receive a detailed email. But he was, unfortunately, the exception.
With the problems you could take it up with the school but ultimately I never received answers just my grades seemed to be better than I expected, which I felt wasn't the right way to handle it. I think the schools are a little out of touch and nervous about online classes due to the testing of the students. Mine packaged the class and rotated the tests every other semester but the test pool came from the publisher and it wasn't hard to gain access to it. I didn't feel that some of the classes I was taught as just repackaging the answers from the book.
My best online instructor, well he had actually made us write in the answers. No multiple choice, nor true/false, according to some students who took his class in person stated he hated them, and nothing seemed to be coming from the publisher, we had to truly think about our answer and give an answer. So no instant knowledge of the answer and when we received a grade we all felt that we earned it and learned something. I actually understood the subject which happened to be Physics. BTW: I received a 'B' in the class I missed an 'A' by a few points on an online lab but I still felt that I learned more in that online class than the other dozen courses I took online.
My experience, if a school has an online course, then the instructor has to run it just like she was face to face and make time for the students questions because there seemed to be a lot more questions online than the students who were face to face. Why? I dunno but I think it had more to do with the course being a one size fits all packaged course versus the instructor actually has to have a discussion of the subject. I think that schools need to make sure their instructors are teaching and not use those publisher online courses. I don't blame the instructor for the online material just not being 'there' with the students.