Saturday, March 16, 2013

Are You MOOC-ing Yet? A Review for Academic Libraries

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Gloria Creed-Dikeogu, Carolyn Clark

Kansas Library Association College & University Libraries Section 
Proceedings > Vol 3 (2013) > pp. 9-13

What is a MOOC? What should librarians know about MOOCS? This article introduces librarians to Massive Open Online Courses by discussing the historical development, key structure and features that make them a unique teaching platform, and some of the potential opportunities for librarian participation.


Opportunities for Librarian Involvement

Academic librarians should expect to become involved in the MOOCs their institutions offer or are planning to offer. For the most part, librarians can expect to take on roles that are similar to those they have with traditional courses. Two of these roles are handling copyright issues and teaching information literacy (Mahraj, 2012).

According to an Association of Research Libraries Issue Brief, librarians are involved in MOOC-related copyright issues including the “[u]se of copyrighted works in instructional materials such as online lectures or modules (the equivalent of traditional classroom teaching); assignment of copyrighted works for outside reading (the equivalent of assigned texts and course reserves)….” (Butler, 2012, p. 3). Academic librarians are used to assisting their institutions with copyright law and may feel comfortable with their knowledge in this area. However, applying copyright law to MOOCs will most likely be a challenge. The problem is that copyright law does not address the unique structure and features of MOOCs, so permissible uses of materials in a traditional class might constitute an infringement in a MOOC. The use of copyrighted materials in a MOOC does not fall neatly within the descriptions of fair use exemptions (Butler, 2012). [snip].

The difficulty associated with copyright law provides librarians with the opportunity to encourage the use of materials in the public domain or subject to open licenses such as Creative Commons licenses. (Butler, 2012) As with fair use, librarians need to be careful. It is crucial they read license agreements even if they are “open licenses” to make sure use in a MOOC is permitted. [snip]

In addition to helping their institutions properly use resources, academic librarians should be involved in teaching and promoting information literacy skills to students taking MOOCs (Mahraj, 2012). Students in MOOCs must have strong information literacy skills as connectivism, the theory of learning utilized in MOOCs, “… [snip] (Kop & Hill, 2008 p. 2). Furthermore, connectivism “…puts the responsibility of information gathering, the validation of sources, and the learning process in the hands of the learning….” (Kop, Fourtier, & Mak, 2012, p. 75). Many students do not have the ability to handle this responsibility without assistance and instruction in information literacy. [snip]. Mahraj (2012) suggests academic librarians can teach/coach MOOC students by scanning student blog posts to find where students are having problems evaluating sources and then providing comments to the posts. Considering the huge numbers of students who enroll in a MOOC, following Mahraj‟s suggestion could take an extraordinary amount of time and effort. More efficient ways to reach students enrolled in a MOOC could be modeling appropriate citation (Mahraj, 2012), providing information literacy skills self-assessment tools, and creating online information literacy tutorials. Regardless of the teaching method chosen, MOOCs offer the opportunity to increase the information literacy skills of huge numbers of students.


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