Online Learning's 'Yellow Pages' Are Bracing for a Shakeout

With dozens of sites marketing distance courses, colleges seek to align with the survivors

An empty, greasy popcorn machine greets visitors to the offices of the Internet company Hungry Minds, located in a renovated warehouse south of the business district here. Beanbag chairs line the walls of the C.E.O.'s office, where a dry-erase board is still covered with notes from a recent brainstorming session.

But despite the modesty of the offices -- the majority of the 80 or so