After a staggering am0unt of backlash, Minnesota has reversed course on the decision to ban Coursera. This comes after the Minnesota Office of Higher Education said Friday that it’d start demanding registration and fees from schools offering noncredit courses through Coursera.
In short, Minnesota now says it’s not taking the tough stance it originally planned. That’s based on recent communication by Lawrence Pogemiller, Director of the 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,” he said in a written statement. “No Minnesotan should hesitate to take advantage of free, online offerings from Coursera.”
In an interview late Friday with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. Pogemiller said “should Penn State have to pay $1,000 to put a course online that Minnesota residents can access for free?” Not really, he said, but it’s going to be up to state lawmakers.
“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,” he wrote. “Until that time, I see no reason for our office to require registration of free, not-for-credit offerings.”
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle on Saturday that Coursera would keep the caution to Minnesota residents on its Web site until she heard directly from higher-education officials in that state, probably on Monday.
“Assuming their position is consistent with our understanding of the statement issued, then we are very pleased and grateful that the state of Minnesota has had the opportunity to re-evaluate the statute and reconsider its relevance to this very new situation,” she wrote. “Their new interpretation will allow all students from the state of Minnesota to have full, unrestricted access to some of the best courses from the best universities, for free.”
For a useful roundup of the whole matter, check out ‘Minnesota Bans Coursera: What You Need To Know.’