Daphne Koller, the founder of leading US online university network Coursera, anticipates that fully accredited undergraduate courses will be available online within five years.
At present online courses have tended to offer certificates for short courses rather than full degrees with universities being hesitant due to reputation. However, it's argued that online degrees can be more affordable and easily accessible.
Coursera, which has 20m students following courses from institutions around the world, has become one of the largest providers of online courses.
According to Prof Koller the technology is no longer a barrier and that universities have been held back by the protection of the brand and not wanting to be seen moving away from personal tuition.
It's argued that online learning should not be compared with the ideal scenario of a seminar group consisting of less than 10 people. In many cases students can sit within lecture halls containing hundreds of people where there is little personal interaction.
It's anticipated that online learning will become the preferred route for those students that cannot afford the time or money to study for a campus-based degree.
There has already been progress in this area with the UK's online university platform, Futurelearn, announcing a project with the University of Leeds. As part of the scheme course units studied online will count as credits towards an undergraduate degree, enabling students to cut the costs of tuition fees.