That was fast.
Slate is reporting this evening that one day after the Internet (myself included) lost its collective mind with rage, Minnesota has backed off its announced ban on free online courses like the ones offered by Coursera and Marginal Revolution University.
Here's the new statement from 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 added that the 20-year-old statute in question clearly didn't envision free online classes from accredited universities:
"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."
Slate's calling it a victory for common sense and a pleasing example of government responsiveness. I agree. Looks like Minnesota is nice after all.