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  • Minnesota Bans Free Online Courses

    Almost as heartbreaking as burning books, a move by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education will rank among those incomprehensible moments in human history when we seem to be handicapping ourselves for no reason.

    Lifelong learners, students wanting supplemental courses, professionals, and Americans across the country interested in enrolling in physics, history, music, and a variety of other courses can do so for free from the open-source provider Coursera. But Minnesota has just informed its residents that they are now prohibited by law from furthering their own education for free through courses offered on Coursera by the likes of Stanford, Duke, Princeton, and more than a dozen other universities.

    As several reports have noted, the Chronicle of Higher Education first reported the following:

    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.

    While students who enroll in a Coursera class cannot get college credit (although they can request that a professor send an email to a prospective employer, for instance, confirming that they took the course and reporting their success), models like Coursera are beginning to change the way Americans think about higher education and provide a huge opportunity to reduce costs and improve access.

    Coursera—and others such as EdX (a Harvard/MIT online collaboration), Udacity, and Udemy—represent a shift in higher education toward credentialing content knowledge. Such a shift lays the groundwork for a revolution in higher education, allowing students to attain various credentials by demonstrating content and knowledge mastery from a variety of course providers. But that (literally) free pursuit of knowledge for their own personal edification or skill attainment is no longer available to Minnesota residents.

    Online learning is, to quote education experts Terry Moe and John Chubb, the “single biggest change in education since the printing press.” Johannes Gutenberg—the father of that printing press—probably shed tears the first time he learned of a book burning. This most recent restriction of access to knowledge should likewise distress us all.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Minnesota Bans Free Online Courses

    1. Milwaukee says:

      This is the Minnesota where "all the children are above average" and is willing to elect Al Franken to the United States Senate. Will they next ban "learning" from the Internet, and then ban "learning"?

    2. Bobbie says:

      It's time to ban government authority and re-institute constitutional government that assumes the authority people give them. Today under Barack Obama people in government refuse their duty addressed by consent of the people. The people have no complaint. The people have choice.

      American government authority can't be this intolerant of the people they govern or the authority above the peoples' own defeats all peoples own. Freedom, independence, value, etc. Regardless, it's unconstitutional. The government has an unAmerican agenda of their own as they create and overstep everything to empower their own using every part of the peoples' and the peoples' society, as subjects. The government is using our money against us!! When is it going to stop? "Chronicle for higher education" an unearned but highly paid source has no purpose for their existence!!

    3. Unbloody Believable! :/ What kind of liberal idiocy is this that "bans" people from learning? What difference does it make where or how that learning takes place. This is nothing short of liberal, progressive idiocracy at work. The same people that say you should have the right to kill a baby just because he/she hasn't been evicted from the womb yet, is saying you don't have the right to contract with whom you will to take educational courses for your own improvement. Sad.

    4. This sounds suspiciously like an attempt to keep Minnesotans from benefiting from Hillsdale College's free online courses Constitution 101 and 201 and History 101. These essential courses are digested from the full, credited coursed taught to all their students, and cover very well our founding documents, the relationships between them and the principles embodied in them, and the threat to the continuation of our constitutional republic posed by the progressive movement and its desire to relegate those documents and principles to the dustbin of history. To me, at least, this makes sense in no other context.

    5. Peter S. Chamberlain says:

      I hope somebody challenges this outrageous regulation, which appears to violate the First Amendment among other provisions of the federal, and, I suspect, some of the state, constitution. Since the courses are free, and don't claim to be "accredited" by the state of Minnesota or anywhere else, I don't understand how the business model works, but it doesn't look like any legitimate interest of the public, the state, or any private person or entity in Minnesota is at risk. If they can ban this, they could as easily ban the Heritage Foundation, legal content from FindLaw or Cornell, or the free content from the liberal Washington Post.

    6. taina2 says:

      What is the rational for this?

    7. Pius Thepure says:

      Now I can understand if it's about course content conflict, not if it's free and non-credit! Could it be that the state panel want money?

    8. Mark Hagebak says:

      This is clearly a play to the UNIONS

    9. Steve says:

      Just another step in the process of controlling the populace in violation of the constitution and the authority given to our governing bodies by the people. The writing is on the wall. Free, quality education is available online and the path of the future. What will the bureaucrats and educators do about their high salaries, lousy service and rapidly growing facilities.

    10. Mike Emerson says:

      An unbelievable case of government overstepping its bounds. Elected representatives should REPRESENT their constituencies. I would like to know how many constituents actually recommended this course fo action, and if so, WHY?

    11. James says:

      Folks, it's all about money, pure and simple.

    12. olde de wotan says:

      This is considerd a threat by the nea, iea and the stranglehold they enjoy in americas institutes of higher depravity. It also is a sign that there are at least some in academia who see the dangers of social and political correctness.It is no secret of what began spawning from university in the 1960s.Today it has produced a twisted and wharped since of reality where all of us are at risk especially at law school departments

    13. olde de wotan says:

      Americas education system is controled by kommisscaportoriat edict at unesco

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