In the 20th century, life revolved around places; we went to a place called school for education, a place called a store to buy groceries, and a place called a library to borrow books, a place called a theatre to watch movie, and so on. In the 21st century, many of the social and economic interactions that once occurred between people in the same place have been deconstructed and reconstructed in online spaces that can be accessed by anyone from anyplace at anytime. Because these spaces have been a permanent part of their sociocultural experience, young people find interacting in these spaces to be natural.
For distance learning students and teachers, the physical classroom place has been replaced with the virtual online space; many educators find these spaces artificial, but students find them natural. For the digital generations, what happens in those spaces is as important as (perhaps even more important) than what happens in the real places. The digital generations also enter classrooms with much experience interacting in virtual spaces which are fundamentally asynchronous and distance-independent. As educators transition from classroom place to virtual classroom space (and even as the space supports the place), social dynamics in classrooms will be influenced by the ICT that mediates those interactions.