We’ve moved beyond the question of whether people are better off if they go to college. They are. Now that that’s settled, we need to figure out what it means to be college educated and what the humanities contribute to student learning.
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.
From the EdX Web Site: EdX today announced its partnership with Google to jointly develop the edX open source learning platform, Open edX, and expand the availability of the platform and its learning tools to individuals and institutions around the world. In collaboration with Google, edX will build out and operate MOOC.org [launching in early 2014], [...]
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.
With the continuing travels of Edward Snowden keeping the National Security Administration’s (NSA) surveillance habits in the news, the discussion during Sunday’s LITA Top Technology Trends 2013 panel at the American Library Association’s Annual Convention turned frequently to the future of privacy, and the role that libraries might play in protecting their patrons.
If you’re an academic librarian, you’re probably already awash, at least peripherally, in news about MOOCs—massive open online courses have been touted as the next big thing in higher ed since they burst on the scene about a year ago. If you’re a public librarian, on the other hand, you may not even have heard of them. Yet MOOCs are bringing unprecedented challenges and opportunities to both kinds of libraries already, and they’re only going to grow.