Without a doubt, distance learning continues to improve in the United States. Certain programs are just as effective as in-school learning, but reach that point requires a strong curriculum with stringent requirements. Distance courses need to be harder than traditional courses in order to provide the same level of valuable education.
I think that distance learning is the wave of the future. It holds down the cost of education, provides a safe environment in one's own home, and allows shopping around for the type of curriculum desired. Even education giants like MIT and Harvard offer free online courses. Students are only limited by the amount of effort they are willing to put into it and I believe distance learning holds great opportunities which will become even better with time.