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  • September 2012
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Live in Minnesota? No Coursera For You!

From the “You Can’t Make This Crap Up” category:

Laura Gibbs (via Steve Krauss) shared a tidbit about the Coursera Terms of Service, as shown below:

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. ¬†ūüėČ

Coursera Students - learn legally

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s hilarious. Minnesota OHE went out of their way to contact Coursera to tell them to keep their cotton-pickin’ hands of those Minnesota residents, or so I’m guessing. This, without a doubt, stems from the ongoing melodrama surrounding state authorization for online education – see WCET summary.

Interesting that the Minnesota OHE apparently reached out to Coursera to inform them of the state¬†statute. Also interesting that Coursera seems to have no interest in paying the fee that the MOHE would require to make this “legal.” ¬†Gotta wonder if they have done the same with Udacity, EdX, and the Siemens/Downes/etc Connectivism MOOCs such as the EdFuture MOOC ready to get started on October 8. I’m guessing they haven’t.

Here’s the beginning of the statute:

136A.61 POLICY.

The legislature has found and hereby declares that the availability of legitimate courses and programs leading to academic degrees offered by responsible private not-for-profit and for-profit institutions of postsecondary education and the existence of legitimate private colleges and universities are in the best interests of the people of this state. The legislature has found and declares that the state can provide assistance and protection for  persons choosing private institutions and programs, by establishing policies and procedures to assure the authenticity and legitimacy of private postsecondary education institutions and programs. The legislature has also found and declares that this same policy applies to any private and public postsecondary educational institution located in another state or country which offers or makes available to a Minnesota resident any course, program or educational activity which does not require the leaving of the state for its completion.

This looks like a business opportunity. I live in Wisconsin, but only five minutes away from the Minnesota border. People living in Duluth cannot take these courses unless a majority of the work they do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota. My plan would be to open up a coffee shop in Superior with cheap coffee and free wifi so that all Coursera students can gather together to do their homework. Of course, cheating will be strictly prohibited!!