There’s been lots of discussion of late with news that top universities are testing the online appeal of free courses.
Supposedly some second and third banana schools on the sidelines are even starting to panic wondering if they’ll be left behind if they don’t also jump on the proverbial bandwagon along with more elite universities like M.I.T., Stanford, and Harvard who are leading the trend.
The testing is part of what’s called“massive open online courses” also known by the unfortunate acronym,“MOOCs.” Unfortunate? Well, the acronym suggests the answer to the question, “What’s a mook?,” which was bodaciously asked and answered in the “. . . we don’t pay mooks” negative by that memorable scene in one of my favorite films, “Mean Streets.”
“Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: [to Charlie] Hey, what’s a matter with this kid, huh?
Johnny Boy: Hey, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with me my friend, I’m feelin’ fine.
Charlie: Keep your mouth shut.
Johnny Boy: You tell me that in front of this asshole?
Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: Alright, alright, we’re not gonna pay. We’re not paying.
Jimmy: But why? Joey, we just said we were gonna have a drink.
Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: [Joey interupts] We’re not payin’, because this guy, this guy’s a fuckin’ mook.
Jimmy: But I didn’t say nothin’.
Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: And we don’t pay mooks.
Jimmy: Mook? I’m a mook?
Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: Yeah
Jimmy: What’s a mook?
Johnny Boy: A mook, what’s a mook?
Tony DeVienazo: I don’t know…
Johnny Boy: What’s a mook?
Jimmy: You can’t call me a mook!
Joey ‘Clams’ Scala: I can’t?
No free lunch for “mooks” or moochers.
Someone eventually pays. And it won’t be the colleges and universities who have historically shown little reluctance to hose their matriculated students and their parents into “financial bondage” through unconscionably unjustified tuition and fees for an increasingly worthless college education.
“Analysts say that universities will inevitably try to make money from MOOCs, whether by charging tuition or not.” No surprise.
Rest assured, then, that as lawyers also learned when continuing legal education went online, the efficiencies and economies of scale of online learning don’t get passed on to the consumer.
And so like always — sooner rather than later, a juicy profit-motive will emerge underlying the colleges’ so-called “free” online learning.