Non-California nuttiness for a change

Oct. 21, 2012

By John Seiler

It’s a statistical fact that 99 percent of the nuttiness in America originates in California. But that leaves 1 percent from elsewhere. A lot of that 1 percent starts in Minnesota. Look at the joke senator named Al Franken, whose career as a comedy writer made fun of just the kind of hack politician he turned out to be.

But the latest Minnesota madness is that the state has banned its residents from taking free on-line courses without the state government’s OK.


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

“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.”

At first I thought this was a spoof out of the Onion. But Coursera, which is located in Mountain View, published this on its Web site under “Terms of Service“:

“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.”

So, will the Minnesota government spy on Minnesotans to find out who’s taking free Coursera courses? Will Minnesota invade California to shut down Coursera?

Maybe the answers will come in a Coursera class beginning next March: “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior.”

Tags assigned to this article:
CourseraJohn SeilerMinnesotaSlateAl Franken

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