Sometimes technology brakes come from unusual places – such as the Office of Higher Education.
I’ve written about Coursera in the past…
They are posting top classes from top universities online for free. It has leveled the playing field for access to education. But there are questions about what impact that will have on paying students. (Free classes do not qualify students for a degree.) I think this is an opportunity for some of the greatest education minds to figure out how to really make online education work.
It turns out that the greatest minds in Minnesota have decided that best answer is to just say no…
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.
Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst for the state’s Office of Higher Education, said letters had been sent to all postsecondary institutions known to be offering courses in Minnesota. She said she did not know specifically whether letters had been sent to other MOOC providers like edX and Udacity, and officials there did not immediately respond to questions from The Chronicle.
Again the classes are now offered for credit.