In 2012, I wrote about the San Jose State University (SJSU) School of Library & Information Science’s (SLIS) evaluation of its core courses. We’re currently putting the finishing touches on a reimagined LIBR 200 class called “Information Communities.” While colleagues reworked other core courses, I’ve partnered with Debra Hansen, one of our senior faculty and a library historian, to create an evolving, modern course that presents students with our foundations as well as an overview of information users and the social, cultural, economic, technological, and political forces that shape their information access.
In a move that will help a leading urban library system begin defining its role in the burgeoning field of massive open online courses (MOOCs), the New York Public Library (NYPL) on April 30 announced a partnership with MOOC provider Coursera. Beginning this summer, NYPL will support a selection of Coursera’s online courses by hosting weekly in-person discussion groups at several branches in the Bronx and Manhattan through Coursera’s Learning Hubs program. Neither organization is paying the other as part of the partnership, but NYPL officials note that sharing information regarding participation in these programs will benefit both parties.
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.
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], [...]