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.
aBeginning May 8, instructors providing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) via Coursera will have the option to supplement their video lectures with content from major academic publishers Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE Publications,and Wiley, at no cost to their students. And that’s just the beginning: “Coursera is also actively discussing pilot agreements and related alliances with Springer and additional publishers,” the company said in a statement. This could be a sea change for both MOOCs and publishers’ business models.
Planning and executing a MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course, is not an easy undertaking. It involves a lot of work, including a thoroughgoing reevaluation of pedagogical goals and methods, lots of planning, and extensive technological support to get each module in the MOOC just right. It also involves lots of “new” decisions about copyright.
I got into a thought-provoking conversation on the Digital Humanities Question and Answer site the other day. Columbia University is planning a two-year staff-reskilling program, so that its librarians can “be the consulting arm of [the university’s] re-envisioned Digital Humanities Center.” Columbia’s is hardly the only library—hardly the only academic library, even—needing to reskill some of its existing employee complement in various ways, digital humanities only one possibility of many. Granting the necessity, how do we as a profession do this, and how should we?