US-sanctioned countries barred from certain MOOCs

January 29, 2014

Students from certain countries have recently found themselves blocked from US-based MOOCs as federal regulations became enforced by some of the course providers. The regulations prohibit US businesses from offering their services to sanctioned countries including Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan. Until recently, students with IP addresses from those countries were able to access the US courses. Coursera explained the change online, saying “The interpretation of export control regulations as they related to MOOCs was unclear for a period of time, and Coursera had been operating under one interpretation of the law. Recently, Coursera received a clear answer indicating that certain aspects of the Coursera MOOC experience are considered ‘services’.” A spokeswoman for Coursera said that the ban also extends to MOOCs created by institutions outside the US. An option for students from those countries who want to enrol in MOOCs is EdX, which has applied for and received special licenses to offer courses to Cuba and Iran. A third license for Sudan is being processed. Inside Higher Ed