Minnesota Bans MOOCs….then doesn’t

Last week the state of Minnesota banned MOOCs. Why? Apparently they have a law that states that any university trying to operate within their border must meet state standards (as in get approval to operate). This would be OK if Minnesota had some kind of quality program but my guess is that the people in charge are not even educators and that there are companies that stand to lose money if the state pushed to get MOOCs out. Here is an excerpt from the chronicle:

“The state’s Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution:

Notice for Minnesota Users:

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. 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.”

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/minnesota-gives-coursera-the-boot-citing-a-decades-old-law/40542

Apparently, facing backlash from the higher ed community, Minnesota plans to ignore the law and let these programs exist within its borders – http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/facing-backlash-minnesota-decides-to-allow-free-online-courses-after-all/40588

Now there are a lot of good issues here. First, these MOOCs are free and offer no credit….plus they are online. How could a state really police them? Should a state really be able to police what is on the internet? On one hand you have states rights and on the other you have a state telling its citizens what they can and cannot see online which brings up a whole host of issues. I would not be surprised if we see more of these types of situations in the very near future so keep your eyes peeled:)

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