Minnesota Backs Down After Internet Rises Up: Now Encourages Residents To Use Online Learning

from the good-for-them dept

Last week, we were among those who reported on a ridiculous attempt by regulators in Minnesota to enforce a regulation aimed at stopping degree mills, by telling various legitimate online learning providers like Coursera that Minnesota residents couldn’t take courses from without state approval. Thankfully, all of the attention has caused Minnesota officials to admit that this was silly and back down. According to Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education:

Obviously, our office encourages lifelong learning and wants Minnesotans to take advantage of educational materials available on the Internet, particularly if they’re free. No Minnesotan should hesitate to take advantage of free, online offerings from Coursera.

He also said that the obsolete regulations should be updated:

When the legislature convenes in January, my intent is to work with the Governor and Legislature to appropriately update the statute to meet modern-day circumstances. Until that time, I see no reason for our office to require registration of free, not-for-credit offerings.

The internet wins, again.

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Companies: coursera

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Comments on “Minnesota Backs Down After Internet Rises Up: Now Encourages Residents To Use Online Learning”

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John Doe says:

Trying to hit a fast moving target

When the legislature convenes in January, my intent is to work with the Governor and Legislature to appropriately update the statute to meet modern-day circumstances.

So what is this new law going to look like? Seems like it will be trying to hit a fast moving target and itself will be out of date quickly.

Michael (profile) says:

Modern day?

“my intent is to work with the Governor and Legislature to appropriately update the statute to meet modern-day circumstances”

So the plan is to meet and draft another proposal that will be woefully behind the times as quickly as the old one? The fact that they have to wait until January says it all – technology changes much faster than your legislation.

out_of_the_blue says:

The "Internet wins" by EXAGGERATION.

Emphasis added:
“For one day, Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education felt the Internet’s indignation as word spread that it was cracking down on free online college courses offered through Coursera and other websites. The bizarre bureaucratic decision was first reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education on Thursday morning, and it became Internet-wide news after my blog post about it Thursday evening went viral, thanks in part to the user-generated news board Reddit.”

The Internet in fury a whole day! Note the Sallon source, his self-congratulation, and the tie to Reddit, all classic. It’s red-meat for nerd rage with the key point that it’s nothing very important. The author page says only that he’s a staff writer for Slate. My bet is he’s a pal of Mike’s.

Intriuged, went to the supposedly original piece where it began to get vague:
“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:”

“Unwelcome” and “unclear” how would be enforced is FAR from a ban.

And more importantly turned out OLD:
“Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, said she was surprised to receive the letter from Minnesota in July.

IN JULY! It’s not clear what took so long nor how long ago it was resolved.

Here’s the obvious sequence: a minor blogger from Salon ran across this old news, posted it on Reddit to gin up a bit of nerd rage, then Mike (somehow) ran the same piece; then both declare victory, pat themselves all over, not just on back, and fanboys are gaga at their “power”. Teh Internets rulez!

In fact, this old story is a textbook case of Internet exaggeration of nearly nothing. Good start for the week here at Techdirt.

John Doe says:

Re: The "Internet wins" by EXAGGERATION.

What do you mean, internet exaggeration? This must be a huge news story if it drew you out of the dredges of the internet. After all, you could be spending your time working toward world peace, solving world hunger or curing cancer. Instead you zeroed in on this story to sink your teeth into.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

The law isn't out of date at all

If the law prevents not-for-credit educational efforts, the problem isn’t that the law is out of date, the problem is that the law is wrong.

The state has every right to set standards for courses that count as credit towards a degree — but has no right whatsoever to dictate whether or not people or businesses can teach when the purpose is not to get a degree. Whether or not this is done on the internet is irrelevant.

It’s the degree that is subject to regulation, not the teaching.

Teaman says:

You guys might want to look at this article


It specifically states that Minnesota wasn’t at fault here.

“”I don?t care what they do; we don?t regulate them,” George Roedler, the manager of institutional registration and licensing at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, told Ars on Thursday.

“I specifically said that [Coursera] didn?t have to put anything on their website. They could do what they wanted. They could ignore it. They chose this route and the reason I believe they did it was to try to protect the schools in their wake. So be it. That?s what they did.””

They didn’t forced them to do anything, Coursera chose to do it themselves. I’m a little sad that so many people never knew the whole truth of this situation. And even though I love the internet and what it did with SOPA and similar legislation, this was a situation were the internet didn’t need to “rise up”, and I hope news sites look into thing a little more before reporting these things.

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