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Free Online Education Unwelcome In Minnesota

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the are-you-familiar-with-the-internet dept.

Education 240

An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "[Minnesota'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."

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240 comments

State legislature, huh? (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704653)

I suspect there is a lot more to this story than anyone in the universities or legislature would ever admit publicly.

But I suspect the real impetus here is that the state legislators don't want anyone coming into their state without having to lobby (aka bribe) them first. Every state university has to come to them once a year with hat-in-hand, and they sure don't want anyone bypassing this system by coming in from out of state without paying their largesse. The patron expects his coin before you do business here, citizen.

Re:State legislature, huh? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704737)

Pfft... MN is just implementing a new experimental hybrid based on Indian and Chinese government practices.

They're bringing multiculturalism to the classroom (or at least to the admin offices).

Seriously. Fuck these government corporate suckasses and the their School Superintendent lackeys.

Re:State legislature, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704809)

Not to mention the state's utter lack of ability to enforce their stance without Great Firewall-like policies and we all know how well that's even worked.

Or (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704815)

But I suspect the real impetus here is that the state legislators don't want anyone coming into their state without having to lobby (aka bribe) them first. Every state university has to come to them once a year with hat-in-hand, and they sure don't want anyone bypassing this system by coming in from out of state without paying their largesse. The patron expects his coin before you do business here, citizen.

Or they're sick and tired of fake online universities charging their citizens or occupying peoples' time for degrees that aren't worth shit. Total nanny state action but your accusations of bribery are completely without merit or citation. Do you know what accreditation is? Why aren't you accusing accredited universities of paying a local authority?

Re:Or (4, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704845)

So you're saying the degree that CourseRA offers isn't worth the electrons it's written with?

Oh, wait, they don't offer one.

Re:Or (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704857)

Except Coursera doesn't give out degrees. It's a topic-oriented class room where you can pick and choose what you want to learn. I don't believe they even give out certificates of completion, just a smack on the ass with a wink if you pass.

Re:Or (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705073)

I suspect if they actually sat down with the state things would be fine, but for the moment they throw around the word 'university' and that has accreditation implications. It is a bit like going to someone who claims to be a doctor who will do exams, but then points out that they can not actually write referrals or prescribe meds because they are not a doctor, thus they shouldn't need a license to practice. It could probably be sorted out with the state pretty easily but, by default, if it walks like a goose but talks like a duck, anti-fraud regulation will probably treat it like a duck unless it shows it isn't one.

Re:Or (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705165)

Not accreditation - it is Fed law about crossing state lines.

For example, the college I work for is accredited by SACS (in face, we have them visiting next week). But we still have to get permission to let a student who is out of state take one of our online classes... maybe.

Comic Book College of Knowledge (2, Funny)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705191)

I could buy that - expect that the "Comic Book College of Knowledge", which is located in Minneapolis, has not recived a letter to shut down their .... errr ... text book store on 4 color sequential art

Re:Or (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705665)

The idea that anyone thinks they have authority over a word like University drives me nuts. It makes a much bigger difference with doctor.

Captcha - idealism

Re:Or (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705901)

Your post reminded me of something very relevant to this discussion: [free mammograms.png]

Re:Or (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705067)

Or they're sick and tired of fake online universities charging their citizens or occupying peoples' time for degrees that aren't worth shit.

A fake online university would be fraud, in any state. Thus, that argument is irrelevant.
Coursera is free, as in no charge. Thus, that argument is also irrelevant.
They don't offer accredited degrees. Thus, that argument is irrelevant.

So what we have left with is that you think the State should be in charge of making sure you use your time for worthwhile pursuits. And that any knowledge not backed by a state board certified degree is not worthwhile.

Re:Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705515)

No, the idea is that you cannot label your material like it is an accredited institution if it's not! This site uses the word university and that probably makes consumer protection politicians nervous. The GP said it's a total nanny state policy, jesus christ.

Re:Or (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705223)

your accusations of bribery are completely without merit or citation

Oh, did I miss something? Has Minnesota banned lobbying and no-show jobs for its legislators? Because it sure looks like they have a lot of lobbyists [state.mn.us] for a legislature that doesn't accept any patronage.

Re:Or (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705391)

your accusations of bribery are completely without merit or citation

Oh, did I miss something? Has Minnesota banned lobbying and no-show jobs for its legislators? Because it sure looks like they have a lot of lobbyists [state.mn.us] for a legislature that doesn't accept any patronage.

The fuck does that have to do with this?

Re:State legislature, huh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704835)

Man! All you "government conspiracy" types! If the world were managed by all these very clever and calculating individuals, even if they were as mildly evil as you suggest, things would be much better. The truth is almost certainly that preexisting legislation simply does not make sense in the current modern context. It's ineptitude, not evil collusion.

Re:State legislature, huh? (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705023)

Corruption of officials isn't a "conspiracy." It involves one person or entity giving money to another entity, not a mass of people as conspiracy requires.

It's also usually out in the open... another difference from "conspiracy."

Stop using "OMG CONSPIRACY THEORY!" as a way to put down concerns about goverment/corporate corruption.

Re:State legislature, huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705089)

In order to be a Conspiracy, there has to be collusion, secrecy, AND illegal activity. This activity is legal, and fully public, thus by definition it cannot be Conspiracy even when all the other hallmarks of conspiracy are present.

Donations aren't Always Bribes (3, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704939)

Political donations are often considered bribes. That's very often the wrong understanding.

Much of the time they are donations to people who agree with you, but we just presume corruption.

But when corruption does exist, it's usually an extortion payment and the cost of doing business. We complain about businesses, but in reality if the government wants to crush a corporation or an individual that person or group of people are toast.

If you want to get the money out of politics, get the politics out of money.

Re:Donations aren't Always Bribes (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705159)

We assume corruption because we built a system that depends on and rewards it. It is corrupt by design, not by accident. Voters have to be 'bribed' into voting for the guy who makes the most outrageous promises, and that takes money. So, at this point money and politics are integral, they are one, entirely inseparable.

Re:Donations aren't Always Bribes (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705819)

If you want to get the money out of politics, get the politics out of money.

You forgot to put "Confucius say" at the beginning.

Re:State legislature, huh? (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705009)

I actually suspect it is an accreditation issue or a consumer protection one. Secondary education institutions generally go through a process to show that they are not diploma mills preying on people, and some states are better then others at cracking down on the practice. Since they invoke the word 'university' (which, like doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc, is not something you can just call yourself in an official capacity) they probably trigged a consumer protection law.

Re:State legislature, huh? (5, Funny)

FictionPimp (712802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705413)

Someone should tell Dr. Dre, Doc and Dr. J that. Not to mention Dr. Claw, Dr. Evil, and Doctor Who. Hell I know plenty of people with PHD's in all sorts of silly things that put Doctor in front of their name, but I don't think that confused people into thinking they can prescribe meds and diagnose prostate cancer.

In all seriousness though I think they are taking this overboard. There is no service being offered here. It's really no different than making a programming tutorial site and calling it code university or . It's obvious that it's not a 'real' university but just a term to denote that you feel you are a good resource for education.

Their cause is a noble one and they are partnered with 33 real Universities that are fully accredited. I understand where they state is coming from, but it reeks of the same silly zero tolerance laws that expel kids from schools for having a bottle of ibuprofen.

Re:State legislature, huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705877)

You mean I'm not earning credits when I watch a football game on ESPN U?

Re:State legislature, huh? (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706015)

You do know that if you have a PhD, you can call your self Doctor, right? It's the D in PhD.

Re:State legislature, huh? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705167)

No. The issue here is that they don't want any old school popping up and selling crap degrees. So the school needs to go through the proper channels.
It has nothing to do with being online, or greasing any palms.

Re:State legislature, huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705421)

Damn, you mean the government is doing something without malicious intent?

All these libertarians are going to have their minds blown!

Re:State legislature, huh? (3, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705569)

Well it has something to do with not selling nor having degrees. What's the proper channel for posting free information online?

Re:State legislature, huh? (3, Interesting)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705799)

Good point. I suspect that the end run around the teachers unions plays into this too. It just goes to illustrate that education is not quite as free and open as some might want you to believe. It's very tightly controlled by the government. The good news is that technology is chipping away at this long standing monopoly. Just this morning I heard that NewsWeek will no longer be a print publication - online only. We're moving from a world of the physical to a world of bits and bytes. In the corporate world I see a trend away from instructor led training classes to online or pre-recorded instruction.

It's happening in the formal education world as well, just more slowly. The first hurdle was getting online degrees some recognition and that is happening now. I'm not willing to bet that formal in class instruction is going away completely but the days of trudging to a classroom and sitting on a hard wooden chair listening to some stuffy old windbag in a bow tie and tweed jacket sporting a C. Everett Coop beard-with-no-mustache are coming to an end.

Ignorance is strength (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704669)

And it's profitable..

Re:Ignorance is strength (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704955)

And it's profitable..

And that right there is what is wrong with the American Educational system. Schools makes it into a profitable business. Mostly to feed the sports teams (coaches salaries, etc) instead of actual education.

I'm all for gym classes, but the insane money machine the higher sports programs (American Football and Basketball especially) really need to stop! And for those of you who can't live without the Saturday College Football games, you really need to look into getting a life instead.

Ignorance is a non-issue here (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705529)

Do Coursera's courses actually educate students? Do they educate students at least as well as classes at an accredited university?

The answers are, "Nobody knows" and "Nobody knows." Minnesota residents are not forbidden from visiting Coursera; Minnesota's schools are forbidden from using Coursera in lieu of classroom instruction.

Re:Ignorance is a non-issue here (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41706007)

What the laws says is that unapproved 'institutions', if you will, are not permitted to offer their services in the state. It's broad enough that even wikipedia better put up a disclaimer, saying, 'all information is for entertainment purposes only, educational use is prohibited', or something like that.

MECC (5, Funny)

shakezula (842399) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704673)

I read "Minnesota," (and MOOC) and instantly had flashbacks to grade school, Apple-II, and Oregon Trail. Here's hoping no one contracts dysentery.

Re:MECC (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705593)

Did we go to the same school? rofl.. Duluth represents!

Private or Public Sector Job? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704685)

STATE OF MN MANAGER:"You have a degree? Fantastic. Which university?"
JOB HUNTER: "Coursera. That's all right, isn't it?"
STATE OF MN MANAGER: "We'll call you."

Common requirement (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704783)

This is a requirement in EVERY state. We are dealing with it now at my university as we start to offer online classes - you have to register with each state's department of education (or equivalent). For most, it is a simple letter; others require more. I admit that this is the first time I have heard of this being applied to non-credit courses.

The sentence "Ms. Koller, who is on leave from her position as a professor of computer science at Stanford, said she wasn’t aware of any other states with similar restrictions." just shows that Ms. Koller is not very experienced.

Re:Common requirement (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704847)

Given that it's non-accredited and doesn't give you a degree or anything official, how is it really any different than any article on the Internet? Does YouTube need permission from each state because they have educational videos on a variety of subjects?

Re:Common requirement (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705141)

Looking through their site, while they never claim to be accredited, they strongly imply they are equivalent, including throwing around 'university' quite a bit.. though very carefully never actually calling themselves one. To people familiar with the venture this probably seems fine, but to someone just glancing over it, it looks pretty shady, like the layed things out so it was just technically within the law but gives the consumer an impression it is more then it is.

However, since it is free, I am not sure how it all ties together. I suspect regulators looked over the site and said 'this looks fishy', and this could be cleared up with a couple of phone calls.

Re:Common requirement (4, Interesting)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705369)

In many states, offering an equivalent education is all that is needed to actually be an unaccredited school/university. For example, since I homeschool in Indiana, my house is an unaccredited school called "The Matthews Academy", I can register for anything an accredited school would register for (educational discounts, field trips, Book It, etc. etc.), and I can even give diplomas. There's nothing at all shady/fishy about that site; the issue is that they're giving out real education for free.

Re:Common requirement (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705995)

You obviously don't read too well if that is the conclusion you came to.. Coursera is not an institution but a common delivery platform for Universitues like Berkeley, Duke and Stanford to make their courses available for free and without offering academic credit to the community at large. Of course the throw the term University around a lot because it is the delivery channel for top notch universities to give something to the community at large. Oh wait, content for free? I see your point, from the US point of view that would be a threat to IP so yeah.. def shady. Better sue Stanford, Duke and all those bad peoples and hand it all over to the MPAA and disney

Re:Common requirement (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705261)

You true doesn't bill itself and an educational site. Educational TV also doesn't apply.

Lets not forget they are partnered with other educational institutions that do offer degrees, and the classes give out certificates. and is a is a for-profit company.

Accredited Degree Granting Institutions (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704937)

For a accredited degree granting institutions that would be true. I will grant that there has to be some type of regulation, but I would quibble that they would have to register with every single state – but that is off topic and for another debate.

Coursera is not this. It not accredited so from an academic viewpoint why does it need to be regulated?

And is there anybody here from Minnesota that has any good ideas on how to get this changed? I am going to e-mail Minnesota Office of Higher Education, but I suspect that is only the first step.

Re:Accredited Degree Granting Institutions (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705381)

Becasue you want to be sure it's actually giving out accurate information. unaccredited school are regulated as well.
You don't want fraud.
They are a for-profit company, coupled with university, and give out certificate
Now, in Coursera's specific case, I don't think there is any fraud, but I can see how easy it would be to create something that could deceive people and perpetrate a fraud.

Re:Common requirement (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705235)

How is this constitutional? Education is speech, and speech is protected. Surely no one in Minnesota has to accept completion of a Coursera course as meaning anything, but they have no right to prevent anyone from taking the course.

I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (0, Flamebait)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704795)

I mean, we need to stop all those silly liberals from coming in here with those crazy notions of evolution, homosexuality being basically immutable, and Christianity not being the established religion in this country.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (3, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704885)

Yep, if Bachmann and her type are going to remain in power then they have to keep the population (i.e. peasants) as dumb as a box full of rocks.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704981)

What worries me more are the people that vote for her.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (-1, Flamebait)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705683)

What worries me more are the people that vote for her.

You know, your name really fits you perfectly.. You ARE an idiot..
What worries *ME* more are the people who *DON'T* vote for her...

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705017)

That didn't take long. Grudge much?

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705091)

I think you want to say “homosexuality being basically mutable” Michele’s Bachman’s husband ran a conversion therapy group to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. If you are going to use scare tactics, at least get your facts straight.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705119)

No, because the other 2 things I pointed out were completely false ideas that Michele Bachmann is quite proud of believing.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705379)

Sorry, other way around: The ideas were true, Michele Bachmann believes otherwise.

Re:I'm sure Michele Bachmann is outraged! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705099)

'land of a thousand taxes'

Most people I talk to who move out of the state (who grew up there) say they can not stand the political crap going on. This is the same state who had someone win the lottery and she was still using welfare. Because she could. The only reason she is going to jail is she was outed in the media. Not because the program figured it out...

Your attack on religion is silly and unwarranted and honestly makes you look like an ASS (I know the dawkins article from yesterday got you all salivating to attack people).

Minnesota is going down the same route as California before it. They will end up with too much give away program (which are good I am not saying they are bad). But those programs get abused, and badly. Spend a few months around people who use these programs. They will tell you the ins and outs of every single one. How to maximize your return on revenue. They think I am 'crazy' because I do not use them and want to make my own way in life.

When your state can not do something as basic as issue a drivers license in a timely manner something is wrong.

It is in a way a bad case of slacktivism. Instead of really helping people out. It is 'i pay my taxes so that is taken care of'.

Like the old saying. Give a man a fish and he will be back tomorrow. Teach a man to fish and eats for a lifetime.

Embarrassed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704813)

I'm from Minnesota, though I have lived in Chicago for the last 15 years. I've been watching my home state spiral into stupidity the whole time. It's actually rather embarrassing. After 15 years, it's only been in recent months that I've started to say "I'm from Illinois." Moronic stuff like this from MN is making it easier and easier to say that naturally with each passing day.

Re:Embarrassed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705983)

I'm from Minnesota too, but I lived in California for a decade or so. The idiocy in California government makes Minnesota look mild by comparison.

I think Minnesota should think carefully about whether this is a good idea - we need all the education we can get!

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704827)

It's unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web

What exactly is unclear? If they find the Coursera courses being used by public education institutions they will apply whatever penalties the law prescribes. No different than punishment is handed down to any company that does business in the state. Wow, that was pretty difficult to imagine, right?

Re:Huh? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704879)

An American-based government actually punishing a corporate entity instead of slapping it on the wrist?

Yeah... right now that *is* pretty difficult to imagine, actually.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705695)

An American-based government actually punishing a corporate entity instead of slapping it on the wrist?

Yeah... right now that *is* pretty difficult to imagine, actually.

The proper characterization is "shakedown".

So the corporate entity makes the proper bribes^H^H^H^H^Hcampaign contributions/ex-legislator lobbyist hires to get the laws changed so they do only get a slap on the wrist.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704951)

They're not saying colleges can't use Courseera, they're saying no one in MN can use it. The issue stems from the fact that Coursera is free and doesn't offer degrees - making it little different than watching HowTo videos on YouTube.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705233)

Yes it is. The summary quoting Coursera even says so:

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.

It's in the second sentence of the summary...

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705489)

No they are not. They are saying that any post secondary education institutions offering courses within the state has to register with the state.

But Ms. Grimes said the law the letters refer to isnâ(TM)t new. âoeThis has been a longtime requirement in Minnesota (at least 20 years) and applies to online and brick-and-mortar postsecondary institutions that offer instruction to Minnesota residents as part of our overall responsibility to provide consumer protection for students,â she wrote in an e-mail.

The law says [state.mn.us] (**PDF warning) "All schools located within Minnesota and all schools located outside Minnesota which offer degree programs or courses within Minnesota shall register annually with the office."

It clearly says courses. So all they need to do is simply register with the state to comply. It's a consumer protection law that is supposed to weed out scams. It doesn't seem to make a distinction between charging to attend or not.

Re:Huh? (2)

mnooning (759721) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705835)

It is interesting that it took sumdumass to point out the actual issues. Aren't there any smartpeople out there?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705893)

"All schools located within Minnesota and all schools located outside Minnesota which offer degree programs or courses within Minnesota shall register annually with the office."

It clearly says courses. So all they need to do is simply register with the state to comply.

How is this supposed to be enforceable? And how would a distance learning university even know that they operate in Minnesota?

I work for a university that offer some distance learning courses - from Norway. And because it is distance learning, our (paying) customers can be anywhere with an Internet connection. We occationally have some in the U.S. even. (Not that often, as the courses aren't in English. Such cases are usually Norwegians working abroad, adding to their education.)

We have no idea if people attempt to study from Minnesota, and of course we aren't really paying attention to laws and regulations in foreign countries either. The U.S. is only one of many many foreign places. Many countries have some weird rules, usually based in dictatorial cencorship or religious madness. We don't care, because we aren't located in such places.

I would guess it is the same with any other distance-based educators too. People arrange payment, and follow courses. Possibly getting a degree too. The institution follow the law in the land where it is located, and couldn't care less about rules in other countries. Especially rules that change from region to region. If Minnesota don't want people to get an education from us, they will have to stop it entirely on their own. We are not going to warn Minnesota people that they ought to work out of their own state. It is not a concern for us if foreign law is broken in the process.

And post it on YouTube as a warning (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704875)

"You don't have our permission to talk to people and teach, AKA inform them", which is the vital, core aspect of freedom of speech.

I am in favor of an amendment that allows guillotining of government officials when they lose first amendment issues.

j/k

kinda not sorry not sorry

Re:And post it on YouTube as a warning (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704929)

Minnesota institutions have the right to not recognize credits from any university they choose to ignore. That's where it should stop. They don't have the right to tell someone not to read or learn something...

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41704897)

In MA, you need a license to run a barbershop. Even if you give haircuts away for free.

Re:Not news (1)

satch89450 (186046) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705229)

What a concept. Distance hair-trimming. How does that work again? You have to remove your scalp, FedEx it to the out-of-state barber, and then fit it back on the return leg?

Why TOS for Nothing? (1)

dcollins (135727) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704899)

"If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera..."

Why would I agree to a Terms-of-Service in order to not use the service? That's completely contradictory.

I hate to say it, but the first thing that springs to mind is this being emblematic of the generally shoddy, poorly-planned work of these massive online courses.

Re:Why TOS for Nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705283)

"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.'

Why would I agree to a Terms-of-Service in order to not use the service? That's completely contradictory.

I'd guess it's because you're a fucking idiot who can't even read a complete sentence.

Re:Why TOS for Nothing? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705527)

Lol.. That is just a limitation of liability clause to come in line with the law of the state. You agree to those terms and if you stay in Minnesota, you are the one breaking the law (if it can even be turned onto the consumer) not the school.

Re:Why TOS for Nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705611)

There's a weird psychological thing, where some people think they always need to have at least two explicit choices; the idea of an implicit don't-opt-in choice is foreign to them. The classical example is an erotica website that shows some kind of disclaimer-like thing which basically says "you're an adult, right?" and then you can click to agree or disagree that you're an adult. Disagree? WTF does clicking that do? Answer: it has to do something senseless. Most of us think there's no reason for a disagree button; your browser's back button or tab-close widget or whatever is the disagree button. But some people can't handle that; their brains crash and they go out of their way to take everyone else with them, spreading misery. These are the same people who made a lot of webdudes do weird things, like add back links to websites.

Next up: Minnesota learns internet is global (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704903)

*Psst... hey Minnesota lawmakers..*... Just delete that Dial-up Networking icon from your desktop. It removes your Internets from your computer.

Won't be long now (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41704945)

You will need a license or 'permission' to speak... on the internet, or off.

One of the nice things about American censorship is its subtlety.

Re:Won't be long now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705093)

That seems a bit panicky.

Permits needed for everything where I live (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705001)

Where I live, you have to get a permit to do just about everything that you're not doing for yourself on your own private land.

You can't even mow your parents' lawn without obtaining a license from the local gestapo, even if you're doing it for free.

You basically cannot perform any work for anyone else that would normally be a revenue activity, without getting the proper licenses and permits from the city.

And many people still think the United States is not a tyrannical big government police state. Sheesh.

How is this justified? (2)

rjune (123157) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705013)

A Ms. Grimes was quoted in the article, "This has been a longtime requirement in Minnesota (at least 20 years) and applies to online and brick-and-mortar postsecondary institutions that offer instruction to Minnesota residents as part of our overall responsibility to provide consumer protection for students,” However, Coursera is free, so how do consumer protection laws come into play? Also, take a look at some of the participating institutions : Princeton, Duke, Illinois, Brown, University of Michigan, Columbia... I'm glad the Minnesota officials are so vigilant about protecting Minnesota residents.

Re:How is this justified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705125)

We are the government and we are here to hep you.

You might get taken advantage of by the free school.

How?
    Well ur uh, they might take your time.

But you just did that.
    Yes, but we are helping you.

Seems like they need either an exception in the law for free course offerings, or they need to be ready to be the target of the comedy circuit.

State vs Private Sector (2)

boyfaceddog (788041) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705103)

The State of Minnesota will do the following for people who have Coursera degrees:

They will not hire you
If you work at a company that has a State contract you may not work on the State project in any capacity.
Fines, lawsuits, etc.

I worked for the state for about three years. They have a lot of contracts in the private sector.

But feel free to take the courses. I'm sure it will all work out.

Re:State vs Private Sector (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705395)

Coursera doesn't give out degrees. they actually teach useful courses. And Fuck Minnesota for extending their reach to curtail people's rights, a state buffoon isn't qualified to tell the worth of a degree.

A university or college can be unaccredited while having particular programs that are accredited. There are some hugely famous universities that fall into that category.

Re:State vs Private Sector (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705649)

You mad?

Re:State vs Private Sector (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705423)

The State of Minnesota will do the following for people who have Coursera degrees:

What's a Coursera degree? The last time I checked, they only offer individual courses on line. Now if Stanford, MIT or other universities accept Coursera transcripts for credit towards their degrees, I don't think Minnesota will have a lot to say about it.

Many universities will allow credit from local community colleges to fullfill certain basic requirements. I don't think questions about where one took each course ever came up during a job interview.

You F[ail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705111)

you all is to let backwards. To th.e

It's the Unions, stupid (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705209)

This just shows the strength of the Teachers Unions in MN, and why they need to be broken.

What they're really saying is "Coursera, by offering the simple stuff for free, you ultimately threaten the jobs of all the shitty, worthless, lazy time-serving teachers we have as dues-paying members, and we cannot allow you to continue to do so. This is not about "the children" or the consumer, it's about protecting our own, and preserving that massive political power. We've spent millions fighting merit pay, teacher-quality review, and any sort of system where parents get to exercise any choice in their childs' (short of home-schooling, and everyone knows they're religious crazies anyway), and we'll be goddamned if you take away the easy, simple-to-teach online coursework forcing human teachers to focus on the more challenging materials to justify our existance."

Re:It's the Unions, stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705351)

Of course it's the unions. Oh wait! Both houses of the MN Legislature are controlled by Republican majorities who would love to crush teachers unions. So, no not the unions after all.

And then there's the fact that Coursera would have zero impact on elementary and high school education which is where all of the unionized teachers work.

When all you have for intellectual tools is a Fox News supplied hammer, every issue looks like a nail don't it?

Simplest explanation is that this is some dingbat bureaucrat applying a regulation that does not apply to Coursera out of ignorance of what Coursera is and it will all get sorted in the long run.

Re:It's the Unions, stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705429)

parents get to exercise any choice in their childs' (short of home-schooling, and everyone knows they're religious crazies anyway),

In their child's / children's what? You're not proving your point very well.

Government-mandated ignorance ? No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705249)

The future will arrive regardless of what such fools do in their idiotic
attempts to prevent it coming.

Lake Woebegon (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705295)

"Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

Because we hold the average down.

A tad off-topic, (1)

gizmo2199 (458329) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705555)

But I think that if universities (maybe not a real-one in this instance) such as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, et al. are brave enough to offer their courses online, why don't they offer degree credits for those people who complete the online courses?

You can take all the MIT openware courses you want, and do quite well, but I suspect "took online courses at MIT site" wouldn't sound too good on a resume, as corporations are credential-obsessed nowadays. This would apply more to people who don't have the time or money to attend an undergraduate institution full-time, but then are penalized in the job market even if they demonstrate an ability to improve their education.

Why don't these universities, in keeping with their academic mission, allow people to get online degrees or credit for free as well?

Regulating Interstate Trade (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705691)

Isn't a statute such as this unconstitutional given states do not have permission to regulate interstate trade. Coursera is not opperating in Minnesota. Instead residents are trading with Coursera over the Internet. It is the same in theory as them taking courses through mail.

More Unions (1)

Terry95 (2690775) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705703)

Just organized -crime- ah make that organized labor flexing it's political might. Nothing really to see here. Minnesota has long had a uniquely perverse relationship with higher education. It's not surprising that the do nothing administrators and do little teachers would instruct their minions in government to issue this edict. I'm sure without federal preemption they'd force ISPs to block this invasion of their fiefdom.

In a sane world... (2, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about a year and a half ago | (#41705725)

Coursera's answer should simply be "We're not operating in Minnesota. Our servers are in $PLACE. Minnesota has no jurisdiction in $PLACE. Have a nice day."

Most posters here haven't a clue what Coursera is. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41705765)

I use Coursera and many of the comments show that few posters haven't a clue what Coursera is.

1. Coursera IS a collaborative effort among major Universites (I am using it to take courses from
the University of Michigan, Duke and Stanford). There is no such thing as a Coursea course, it is
only a channel by which existing well respectedUniversities offer their courses to the larger online community.

2. More specifically Coursea is a channel for self education and does not offer ANY academic credit
from institutions that use that channel for their courses. They also do not charge. There is no such
thing as a "Coursera transcript"

3. Coursera is not unique. There is a similar collaborative effort between Harvard and MIT to offer their
courses on line in a similar manner called edx.org.

The law is clearly misapplied since Coursera is not a university or academic institution no does it claim to be, the
law would only apply to all the Universities that use Coursera. Of course I suppose once you really have to
keep an eye on those shady, fly by night operations like Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Yale.

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