Anant Agarwal is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of edX, a leading provider of massive open online courses, known as Moocs.
Unlike a scientific experiment that can keep controls and treated samples isolated in separate test tubes, the MOOC experiment is playing out in one of the messier corners of the already messy real world: academia.
I suspect that there are too many Eutopian hopes pinned to MOOCs. First, there are many forces attempting to monetize MOOCs. Second, public libraries have been ofering free education for over 100 years and have appealed mostly to a niche market for this purpose. Third, free MOOCs do not lead to those cherished pieces of paper that state our qualifications.
Don't ever email the professor. Never friend the teacher on Facebook. Those are some of the rules A.J. Jacobs learned when he joined the ranks of millions enrolled in massive open online courses, MOOCs.