Since the term was coined five years ago, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been a subject of much debate in educational circles. In their brief life span, the courses, in which up to many thousands of students can participate, have demonstrated the promise of new technology to democratize education by some and been declared failed experiments by others. MOOC professors, though, say that it’s too early to judge how MOOCs perform, and that after just a few years, even those in the know are still figuring out what MOOCs really are and what shape—or shapes—they’ll take in the future. Whatever MOOCs look like going forward, though, libraries—in the academic and public sphere alike—will play a key role in helping to determine their design and success. In just the few months since we looked in LJ at the MOOC environment (“Massive Open Opportunity,” LJ 5/1/13), the quickly moving field has evolved significantly.
Massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) have dominated the conversation in higher education since their sudden arrival in spring 2012. The MOOC movement is evidence of the profoundly disruptive change that is widely seen as coming to higher education. If there is any unit on a university campus that has survived and thrived on disruptive change, it is the library. Libraries in institutions actively offering MOOCs applied this background to figuring out how to manage intellectual property questions. However, for libraries in universities not offering MOOCs, there seemed to be no role, other than to watch and read about the movement in wonder, amusement, and occasional envy. For the Z. Smith Reynolds Library (ZSR) at Wake Forest University (WFU), however, this was not enough. So when WFU was not contemplating offering any MOOCs in 2012, the library decided to experiment with an open, online course on its own.
While much has been written about the role of academic libraries in supporting massive open online courses (MOOCs), the inclusion of MOOCs in a public library setting is largely unexplored territory. This past summer, the Ridgefield Library included a MOOC as part of its adult summer reading program. Based on this experience, the Ridgefield Library plans to continue as a meet-up destination for MOOCs as part of its mission to be “an intellectual and cultural center” and to support lifelong learning for all ages.
Deep in the conversations streams of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC (massive open online course), the large-scale professional development course I’m coteaching this fall for more than 300 library folk, my thoughts turn again to the concept of librarians as facilitators of learning. It becomes clear to me that as learning goes on the move, we not only must keep up with significant changes in education environments but aim to become connectors and collaborators within our users’ learning spaces.
Clemson University’s Cooper Library has a new addition that may seem out of place at first glance—a study hall filled with stationary exercise bikes. The space isn’t being taken over by the phys ed department, though. The bikes are FitDesks, specially equipped cycles with attached desktops that allow riders to be readers as well, and they’re part of a new study by Clemson psychologist Dr. June Pilcher on the effects of exercise on productivity and learning.
As I got ready to tour the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, last spring, as part of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) meeting held nearby, the buzz about the newly unveiled building had reached such a level that I expected to find it, however cool, overhyped. It wasn’t. It was exactly the right amount of hyped. “Every corner of the Hunt Library is designed to be memorable and stunning,” the library’s vision claims. Grandiose as that might sound, those corners deliver.
On October 16, Library Journal and School Library Journal will host “The Digital Shift: Reinventing Libraries.” Our fourth annual online event has itself been reinvented in a new format, offering program tracks focused around community, instruction, and getting beyond the container to new content. Recorded Books is a gold sponsor of the event, and LJ reached out to Matt Walker, vice president of Recorded Books, in the second of a series of interviews addressing how the ongoing digital shift is transforming the libraries of today and tomorrow.
Earlier this month, Drexel University announced the formation of a College of Computing and Informatics, a new educational hub that will act as a home for the school’s computer science and technology programs—including the University’s ALA-accredited iSchool. It joins the growing ranks of MLIS programs that have found themselves under new organizational management recently, for reasons from increasing collaboration between departments to cutting administrative costs.
NovoEd, a privately held Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, has announced a new entrepreneurship curriculum in partnership with several institutions, including Stanford University, where NovoEd was developed before being taken private in April. The new series of 12 courses begins this fall. Most courses are free, though some are priced at $250, and one course, on venture capital, is priced at $999.