Princeton’s central mission is succinctly stated in a document titled Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, which can be found online at http://www.princeton.edu/pub/rrr/:
“The central purposes of a University are the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarship and research, the teaching and general development of students, and the transmission of knowledge and learning to society at large.”
On the basis of several decades of experience teaching, writing textbooks, and developing online content, including six online courses (four with my colleague Kevin Wayne), I can report the following: The truth is that online content is here to stay. We are learning and developing new and effective ways to disseminate knowledge, our online content is now having a positive impact on the majority of Princeton students, and we are now reaching millions of people worldwide.
This discussion is not about royalties and cost recovery. It is about how to best fulfill our central mission.