Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, offered by universities have the potential to shake up education. People yearn to learn, but many enroll on MOOC courses only to flunk out after a few lessons, The Economist reports.

MOOCs are ill-suited to their medium: they are long and lack interaction. That is why less formal alternatives are doing well. TED Talks have thrived.

The video lectures, less than 20 minutes long and given by sharp suited penseurs, are devoured by a large audience keen to learn superficial facts about their world (Malcolm Gladwell, the pop science author recently savaged in our paper...

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