Tracing the evolution of professional development programs in libraries has been an interest of mine since I was an Internet trainer in the mid-1990s. Conferences and daylong workshops were the way we shared and learned back then, along with the occasional teleconference or visiting speaker. Webinars paved the way for online channels to deliver development. Learning 2.0 changed the landscape even further in 2006.
With my co-instructor Kyle Jones, who is currently working toward his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s iSchool, I am mining the survey data from the Hyperlinked Library massive open online course (MOOC) that we taught last fall for 363 LIS professionals. With support from the San José State University School of Library and Information Science, feedback on the broad professional development opportunity we offered is providing some unique views of how models of online learning for library staff continue to evolve.
The post-MOOC survey data is full of rich insights and ideas for future offerings. Kyle and I are working on journal articles that explore participants’ sense of community, perceptions of success, and suggestions for refining the MOOC for the future, as well as the bespoke learning environment built on WordPress and BuddyPress.
We asked participants what their major takeaways were, and the results are most interesting. They reported, in order of frequency, that they learned about new ideas, knowledge, and trends; discovered that they are able to learn, collaborate, and discuss/exchange ideas with others in evolving networks and with those beyond their individual library environments; and gained perspectives about themselves through personal reflection on their learning styles, professional practices, and the ways they view the world. Others came away with inspiration, energy, and excitement about our field, as well as new technological skills.
A life of its own
One of the most intriguing aspects of the course has been the life of #hyperlibMOOC outside of what Kyle and I created. Throughout the course, participants extended the learning to Twitter, GoodReads, and other social sites. As the course concluded, a core, most active group of #hyperlibMOOC folks spun off a blog of their own and started an “alumni” group on Facebook.
At the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, I met up with MOOC student Amy Paget, a librarian at Tippecanoe County Public Library, IN. Amy was handing out ribbons for name tags emblazoned with “Hyperlinked Library Alumni.” Gestures such as this touch my heart deeply.
Kyle and I wrote a paper for the proceedings of the 16th Distance Library Services Conference this month in Denver based on this post-MOOC survey question: “Reflecting on your MOOC experience, what roles do you think librarians might play within MOOCs?” The identified roles include:
- Guide Rarely in the library, working on the go, from home or third place, or amid the MOOC community served, the librarian gives learners what they want and need, with an arsenal of technological tools.
- Access Provider Building, curating, and sharing resources to help learners wherever they may be, without the confines and barriers we’re accustomed to. This librarian works with authors, scholars, and other content providers to make resources available as openly as possible. Contracts may include “MOOC clauses” for open access.
- Creator Librarians create large-scale, small-scale, or “just right” formalized courses for their constituents across a wide spectrum of topics and varying degrees of focus.
- Instructor New platforms and methods of offering learning can extend how librarians instruct those they serve. These new environments will encourage librarians to capture and curate more knowledge and package it for anywhere, anytime learning.
As travel and conference budgets continue to shrink, I hope there will be more opportunities for open, sweeping, global learning such as #hyperlibMOOC. Going forward, an LIS professional might continue to use such platforms to keep current with emerging ideas and issues in librarianship as well as specific subjects of interest. The library advocacy MOOC taught by Wendy Newman at the faculty of information, University of Toronto, currently running, also focuses on a timely and important area of librarianship. I look forward to a rich set of communities offering lifelong learning for LIS professionals. As for #hyperlibMOOC, we’ll be updating and refining the model and offering it again in spring 2015. I hope you’ll join us.