The idea that high quality coursework can be taken online from the best professors from anywhere in the world is revolutionary. The promise is endless: a leveling of opportunity, an elimination of privilege; MOOCs represent the internet’s promise of an egalitarian utopia.

It’s hard not to have MOOCs on the mind as I approach my classes. In any class, students fall onto a spectrum. At one end are those who are truly engaged in what is happening in the room. They see the value of immersing themselves in the classroom experience and they are better for it. On the other end...

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