I attended a state school right out of high school. I went to lectures in a room with 200 other students and had instructors that I never talked to. I also found many of the classes I did not have to study for because they were only repeating information I'd learned in high school. My opinion of traditional colleges is not that great.
When I went back to school many years later to get my BS degree, I found small class sizes, mandatory participation as part of the grade (so the small classes had a LOT of discussion), and instructors that responded to most of the questions and comments we posted on our forums. I felt that I learned a lot more with the online classes than I ever did in a traditional setting.
One other factor though, is age. I was older and more serious about school. A lot of times what you get out of a course has more to do with what you put into it than the format that it's taught. Even if I had been a more serious student, the interaction between teachers and students online was a huge plus that traditional colleges would have a hard time matching without similar small class sizes and grade-related pressure for everyone to participate.