Illegal Free ClassesPosted by on Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Just a heads up: If a government bans something that is overall very beneficial for the citizenry, you can bet that the reason for banning it is because they enjoy having a monopoly on “helping” people. Governments are power hungry and crazy like that. If you don’t believe me, stick around, subscribe, and follow stories from around the country that prove my point over and over again.
The latest example of this phenomenon (governments banning something simply because they want to be in control) comes to us from the state of Minnesota.
Coursera offers free, online courses to people around the world, but if you live in Minnesota, company officials are urging you to log off or head for the border.
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. (source)
Minnesota’s office of higher education claims to have best interests of the students in mind. They say that they have a “responsibility” to “protect” students. However, it’s clear to me that they simply feel threatened by Coursera. After all, if people can take free online classes taught by professors at the University of Michigan, Stanford, Emory, Johns Hopkins, etc., why would they pay to enroll as students in Minnesota’s public universities?
However, they don’t really need to feel threatened by this. People who complete Coursera’s courses don’t actually receive college credit (usually). Most of the students are high-school students or professionals trying to brush up in their work fields.
However, true to form, the banning of these courses in Minnesota has opened up a business avenue for anyone wanting to give it a try:
Referring to Coursera’s caution that Minnesotans who do enroll study outside the state, Robert Talbert, an associate professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University, in Michigan, had a suggestion.
Writing in his blog on The Chronicle’s Web site, he said he sees “a strong potential for a cottage industry: Set up a chain of coffee shops with free Internet access and on-site tutors just across Minnesota’s borders…
Minnesota should be ashamed. Instead of feeling threatened and pretending to be concerned, they should encourage free education for their citizens. Doesn’t education empower all of us for a better life? That’s what governments want us to believe about their public schools. But, as soon as it’s not a public school, we’re supposed to believe that it’s somehow not in our best interest.
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