Fri Oct 19, 2012, 03:32 PM
alp227 (28,123 posts)
Free Online Education Is Now Illegal in Minnesota
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the state has decided to crack down on free education, notifying California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents. Coursera, founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, partners with top-tier universities around the world to offer certain classes online for free to anyone who wants to take them. You know, unless they happen to be from Minnesota.
A policy analyst for the state’s Office of Higher Education told The Chronicle that Minnesota is simply enforcing a longstanding state law requiring colleges to get the government’s permission to offer instruction within its borders. She couldn’t say whether other online education startups like edX and Udacity were also told to stay out.
As the Chronicle notes, with admirable restraint, “It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web.” And keep in mind, Coursera isn't offering degrees—just free classes. Nevertheless, the startup appears to be playing along, posting on its terms of service a special notice to Minnesota users. It reads, in part:
If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.
Update, Oct. 19, 10:58 a.m.: George Roedler, manager of institutional registration and licensing at the Minnesota Office of Higher education, clarifies that his office's issue isn't with Coursera per se, but with the universities that offer classes through its website. State law prohibits degree-granting institutions from offering instruction in Minnesota without obtaining permission from the office and paying a registration fee. (The fee can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, plus a $1,200 annual renewal.) That means that it's Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, the University of Melbourne, et al. that are violating Minnesota law by partnering with Coursera to offer courses that Minnesota residents can take for free.
A libertarian friend posted this story on Facebook with hysterical comments like "the government controls you". My take on this: if the course material is from accredited, legitimate educational institutions, rather than some random amateur diploma mill, what Minnesota is doing violates the first amendment.
5 replies, 1195 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Free Online Education Is Now Illegal in Minnesota (Original post)
|Angry Dragon||Oct 2012||#1|
Response to alp227 (Original post)
Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:18 PM
IAMTHEFISH (8 posts)
3. How could Education possibly be a prob. in America?
With this mentality I don't see how education could even exist as a problem in America.
Please not the sarcasm
Response to alp227 (Original post)
Wed Nov 28, 2012, 03:46 PM
elleng (51,475 posts)
4. I'd go further than you and urge that,
from wherever their course material, as long as its free and not purporting to award degrees, it DOES violate the First Amendment. State has no business here, kind of like me being prohibited from helping my daughters, their friends, etc etc, w help in understanding things like, uh, the First Amendment!