Bryan Caplan  

Marginal Revolution University

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Big news: My beloved friends and esteemed colleagues Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are launching their own online education project, MRUniversity.  Since I don't think online education is going to revolutionize education (here, here, and here for starters), my knee-jerk response is to quote Seymour Skinner: "Prove me wrong, kids!  Prove me wrong." 

My real view, however, is that MRUniversity is going to do very well for Tyler, Alex, and the world.  A business idea doesn't have to precipitate a revolution to add tremendous value.  Even if online education tops out at 1% of the higher education market, and MRUniversity captures 1% of that 1%, they'll be rich.  And it wouldn't surprise me if they can do better in less-developed countries, where conformity norms don't work so heavily against them.  Even if MRUniversity never makes a dime, moreover, it will supply the public good of economic education that the world so sorely needs.

In the end, though, I predict that Marginal Revolution University will be a lot like Marginal Revolution itself.  It won't be a strong substitute for brick-and-mortar education.  It won't directly make a lot of money.  But it will breathe new life into the timeless subject of economics - and be a profitable loss leader for two very entrepreneurial economists.
 
P.S. Don't miss Tyler and Alex's online Development Economics class, premiering October 1!


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