I entered one course recently just to see whazzup and was appalled that the professor had only posted the first and second weeks' work. Designing an online course is at LEAST as difficult as designing a land-based course, timing (when to present what), surprise (questions laid out in such a way that students actually surprise themselves), play (one simply cannot learn without play), eros (no, not sex, you know what I mean, that je ne sais quois
that is part of the experience of learning, a personal relationship with the teacher from whom one feels inspired), graphics (cannot emphasize enough the COMPETITION for student attention generally), super-plagiarism-prevention techniques for assignments (otherwise, who are we kidding here?) and on and on and on. Audio. Video. MILLIONS of test questions (so everyone gets a different test) but very little emphasis on tests (just enough to make sure students are getting the vocabulary). I did my 10,000 hours and I cannot believe it, but there are still colleges out there who are telling their land-based instructors, OK, go create an online course. It's crazy-making!
No one can walk in from teaching land-based and suddenly be able to teach online. Working full-time for ten years (summers too), I FINALLY started to see how the puzzle fits together. It's an entirely different enterprise altogether from F2F learning.
The big problem is that even though administrations can see the money pouring in (oh yeah), they do not "believe" that it is delivering the quality of land-based (except for a few who took the time to actually TAKE a few courses). Oh, they might argue the case, but they do not really believe it because what the hell is teaching, it's the lowest on the totem pole, just as you said. Just because information is online, does not mean it is a course. And as we know from Einstein, information is not knowledge.
Man I hope I can change the world fast enough so that I can see my dream come true: really engaging, wonderfully presented courses WITH accreditation, for free, for anyone in the world who wants them. The Consortium of Nations (all countries can put a few bucks together for the project) and, presto, with guidance and best practices? We can educate the world. We have to work fast because "book-taught" people will soon be gone and we will have no way to evaluate whether what we have created stands up. The sick feeling I get at the dropout rates and the weirdly unschooled high school graduates who arrive in my classes (what ARE they doing all day?) Are we just going to let this continue? We had higher literacy rates in 1900!!!! (98%)
Our civilization depends on everyone becoming well educated. And what is even more crazy-making is that to do it right would cost so little! Frustration!