The arrival of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, has generated a lot of scholarly talk about whether it’s the death knell of the modern university, or at least its ability to educate a large share of the population, The Register-Guard reports.

Some say universities now face the same disruptions that online technology brought to the music industry, book publishing or newspapers.

“There’s no doubt that change is a-coming,” said Kevin Ahern, who teaches biochemistry online at Oregon State University.

Today, MOOCs are available in every subject — from modern poetry to aerodynamics to drinking-­water treatment — and from elite institutions, including Harvard...

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