Is A Classroom Needed To Inspire Students?

The NYTimes had interesting commentary on how university’s  have yet to find a formula for online courses that create the personal relationships found in traditional classroom settings (link here).  I somewhat agree with the general tone of the article and appreciate the review of technology in academia.  However, one quote stood that really caught my attention and disagreement:

Wendy Brown, the Heller professor of political science at the Berkeley campus, spoke witheringly of the idea at a campus forum in October: “What is sacrificed when classrooms disappear, the place where good teachers do not merely ‘deliver content’ to students but wake them up, throw them on their feet and pull the chair away? Where ideas can become intoxicating, where an instructor’s ardor for a subject or a dimension of the world can be contagious? Where scientific, literary, ethical or political passions are ignited?”

I fail to see why a classroom setting is required to inspire and motivate students.  Why wouldn’t an instructor,who is committed to educational excellence, have the same success reaching students online as in a physical room.  Likewise, an instructor who displays little passion for educating students will equally fail in either medium.

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