Howard, this is a great question to ask. With the rising popularity and usefulness of "Dashboards", what role does the front page play?
My cyber school serves 6th graders - seniors. We contemplated making the Dashboard the home page of our moodle, but there are feature that seems only the front page can serve so we have not made that switch. Here is what we like about the home page:
1- the main forum - we have set up 40 weeks worth of announcements that automatically change every Monday (using the forum post's dates restrictions) which tells students how many points of activities they need to submit that week in each course to stay on track for the semester. This eliminates the need to post this information in every course.
2- ability to add activities for authenticated uses to participate in. We occasionally add choice modules and questionnaire modules for the students and parents to partake in - the front page makes it easy for everyone to access these optional activities.
3- LTI connection - we use black board collaborate as our Virtual School Offices. We add an LTI to the main menu block and link that LTI to an image at the top of our front page. When the VOs are closed, we simply hide the image and activity. To do this on a dashboard would require us to constantly "refresh" everyone's dashboard, which would then make users loose their dashboard customizations.
4- theme mobile mode -- the front page just looks better on a mobile phone than the dashboard (imo). We keenoie front page as a simple page with few items but it serves as a consistent landing page for our users before they go to their courses or dashboard.
That sounds about it for us. Until I can find simpler ways to move these items to the dashboard, the front page will remain relevant for our use-case. But I'm definitely fascinated to hear other users' experiences and opinions.