Monday, April 1, 2013

MOOCs and Libraries

In mid March I attended (well, watched live stream) the  OCLC Research and University of Pennsylvania's  MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge? conference. I wrote up a brief report on what I learned. Also check out the twitter hashtag: #mooclib.  Here is some basic information:

What are MOOCs: MOOC massive open online courses.  They are usually open and free, online courses not just videos or materials, taught by experts in their fields at universities partnered with and coordinated through one of these non-profit organization like  Coursera or  edX.  They are a disruptive technology.  With tuition costs rising, classes size growing, and online learning expanding, the public discourse pushing forward on MOOC concepts as they see a current broken education model (one speaker called it a “prestige arms race”). This disrupted technology will be growing, changing, shifting, and consolidating - think search engines in 1999 versus now.

Overview: MOOCs have been around for only about a year but have grown from 4 schools involved to 62 schools, and the growing audience of learners is phenomenal. MOOCs show incredible global reach – most MOOC students are not within the US – and demonstrate community engagement, with universities reaching out to their communities and through public library collaborations. Speakers and panelists discussed how MOOCs are seriously changing education, creating new ways to think about pedagogy of learning and how these ideas are being applied in non MOOC courses. These ideas include applying flipped classrooms, learning much smaller chunks of information at once, various class times, start times and lengths, giving students access to resources (videos, tutorials, quizzes, materials) to review over and over, and allowing students to learn at their own pace and their own timeframe. The two day conference included speakers – professors, scholarly communications librarians, library administrators, copyright experts - from various schools who have been working with MOOC providers including U Penn, Brown, Duke, Cornell, Berkeley, and LA County Public Library, as well as speakers from MOOC organizations and OCLC. They offered information on their various models, processes, procedures, growth, data on usage/audience and how librarians can and should be involved.

Why should librarians care? As one panelist said “it’s the perfect storm!”
•    disruptive to teaching and library models
•    externally driven - unlike past online learning growth
•    rapid uptake - seems contradictory to what we know and do
•    fast changing and always will be
•    happening in an environment of rising costs and questions about educational quality
•    potential revenue stream (many of now charging for credit)

Roles for libraries:
  • Resources -  Licensing, open access, copyright/fair use, creative commons:  The most important and critical role and one we already know!
  • Course Building - production, instructional design, integrating resources: a role some of us play in libraries and one that we might be able to assist with on our campuses.
  • Preservation and/or Archiving, and Institutional Repositories:  another critical role, who better to  help preserve the materials for MOOCs on the campus.
  • Materials Creations/Instructional Technologies: librarians as creators of information and assistance with tech tools for online course/MOOCs
  • Tech Savvy Expertise: Many of the panelists mentioned that libraries tend to be more tech savvy than they are - nice comment to hear!
  • Librarians create a MOOC & and take a MOOC or two: why not create on on information literacy or critical thinking ... but also we should take a MOOC to understand how it works.
  • Interdisciplinary, broad vision, key collaborators: the library is an establish entity on a campus in this role, important for a campus wide initiate like MOOCs.
The full report is available if anyone wants to learn more!  Check out the new MOOCs and Libraries Google Group too.

Follow up 5/1/13:

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