The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is telling the new online course companies they can’t serve students in Minnesota. Apparently, there’s an old law on the books that’s supposed to protect us from wasting money and time on courses from unregistered universities. First picked up by the Chronicle of Higher Education, here’s some commentary from Slate.
Of course, that law didn’t anticipate Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, MIT, Yale, the University of Virginia et al offering massively open online courses (MOOCs) for free through these providers, or students signing up for these courses from all over the world. For example, the mathematical thinking course I’ve been auditing registered over 60,000 students when it began. These companies aren’t going to qualify at every state and local level. It’s time for Minnesota to take down its “Keep Out” sign and figure out a common sense response. For that matter, when’s the University of Minnesota going to get in the game?
Update: According to the Washington Post, common sense is prevailing at the Office of Higher Education.