theodp writes: Online education has had a fifty-year road to 'overnight' success (PLATO@50 commemorative booklet). MIT Technology Review calls the emergence of free online education, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years. 'If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years,' writes Antonio Regalado, 'you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford’s Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on. Now answer this one: what’s been the single biggest innovation in education? Don’t worry if you come up blank. You’re supposed to.' Writing about MOOC Mania in the Communications of the ACM, Moshe Y. Vardi worries that 'the enormous buzz about MOOCs is not due to the technology's intrinsic educational value, but due to the seductive possibilities of lower costs.' And in MOOCs Will Eat Academia, Vivek Haldar writes, 'MOOCs will almost certainly hollow out the teaching component of universities as it stands today...But all is not lost, because the other thing universities do is research, and that is arguably as important, if not more, than teaching.' So, are MOOCs the best thing since sliced bread, or merely the second coming of 1920s Postal Course Mania?