Ancient MN law makes online ed providers outlaws; starts mini-uproar
A few days ago, word spread that the state of Minnesota had decided to act on the discovery of an ancient law requiring colleges to get the government’s permission to offer instruction in the chilly midwestern “land of 10,000 lakes.” Apparently, state law prohibits degree-granting institutions from offering instruction in Minnesota without obtaining permission from the office and paying a registration fee, which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
The state notified California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents. Coursera then posted this notice on its homepage:
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.
The law was said to be put in place to prevent MN students from wasting their money on substandard institutions, so the confusion, of course, was in the fact that Coursera courses are free.
Luckily though, cooler heads and common sense prevailed just one day later.
Check out a timeline of the incident at Slate Magazine.