Here I go again - reading articles. This one struck me as it is totally what I am a firm believer in - online learning for adults, which includes online degrees and professional development courses. The article, Technology's Continuing Struggle to Disrupt Higher Education, basically says that online learning has the great potential of providing higher education degrees to more students, but these degrees do not earn the respect they deserve. Because "consumers of higher education use prestige as the signal of higher quality because commonly accepted measures of actual student learning do not exist" online learning is not considered as prestigious or worthy as learning from a 'brick and morter' institution.
I completely agree that this IS the stigma that online institutions suffer. Unfairly so I think. Hopefully this will change. Online learning is the wave of the future and, as someone who would not be finishing my doctorate degree from a 'brick and mortar' institution (The College of William and Mary) without the ability and opportunity (thanks to my professors!) to do much of my final course work online, I certainly think we need to come up with a better system of evaluating the worthiness of online higher education. From personal experience, most of my online courses were as challenging, if not more so, than my face-to-face institutional courses, so it seems an unfair assumption that just because it's online it's not worthy. If online learning allows MORE people to get advanced degrees, then we need to reevaluate our idea of what determines a prestigious institution.