When I attended the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and the Humanities in the mid-1990's, some of my AP classes were broadcast state-wide via some innovative (for the time) software. This set-up allowed kids at other high schools to see the same lectures and ask questions. Their own on-site teachers supervised labs. It wasn't perfect, but it did allow Indiana to spread around scarce resources (high school teachers who could teach advanced science well) to as many students as possible.
Ten years later, this concept still hasn't caught on as well at the high school -- or college -- level as it could have. So there's a certain genre of "gee, isn't this cool?" article that runs about these programs whenever they're launched. For one example, see this recent Baltimore Sun article called "Technology Goes the Distance for Students." These Maryland students now have the option of taking advanced math classes without going to community colleges, which is logistically easier for all involved.
Any lecture-style class can lend itself to this format. Since most 101-level classes at college fit this mold, too, it begs the question: Why not adopt distance learning for higher education more broadly? If you think about it, there's no real reason for multiple versions of Econ 101. One awesome lecturer, nationwide, could be recorded giving the basic lessons, perhaps with computer simulations that class members could do on their own PCs, all at the same time. Grad students or other faculty could lead short break-out sessions once a week to answer questions and go over homework. Of course, this would make it seem a little more odd that some universities charge much more than others. But it would probably raise the quality of most basic college level courses and create lots of efficiencies.
The distance learning model is much harder to make work for discussion-oriented classes (which would include good literature classes). Still, a few programs such as Stanford's EPGY, and Northwestern's Gifted LearningLinks, are starting to fill the void.
This is a long time in coming. The biggest problem for gifted learners is that they are so rare. In order to have enough highly gifted kids to form a class, you need a broad geographic reach for a school. This doesn't work well if kids need to go to one place to meet with certain teachers, unless you live in a big city. There are enough highly gifted children within New York City's 8 million residents to justify a high school like Stuyvesant. There probably aren't so many highly gifted kids in a rural area. With distance learning, these obstacles start to disappear.