Dozens of top universities and colleges are scrambling to get in on the latest trend in higher education, massive open online courses known as MOOCs, Time reports. Enrollment is ballooning by the hundreds of thousands each semester. A third of administrators say they think residential campuses will eventually be obsolete.

Google just announced it’s teaming up with Harvard and MIT to create “a YouTube for MOOCs.” And The Economist asked this summer if the courses portend “the fall of the ivory tower.”

There’s only one hitch: No one really knows if students learn anything in a MOOC. Scant existing research suggests that...

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