Since the class doesn’t meet face-to-face, I can remain anonymous and don’t have to participate
This is not the case in most online courses. Online discussion and other activities requiring instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction are frequently a significant portion of an online course. Since these interactions do not occur in a “real-time” environment (such as a face-to-face classroom) students have the time to reflect on their thoughts prior to posting their questions or answers. There is benefit to participating in an online environment, particularly for those whom may not be inclined to participate in a face-to-face class.