Friday, March 21, 2014

Keeping Up With... MOOCs

Carmen Kazakoff-Lane is Extension and ILL Librarian at Brandon University

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses that enroll anyone wishing to attend for free. Early MOOCs, which emerged out of the OER movement, are known as Connectivist MOOCs [aka cMOOCs] and emphasize both active student learning and knowledge creation using a wide range of tools that are (1) shared with fellow students and (2) openly licensed for use and adaption [i.e. community-generated OERs]. The more widely known MOOCs, xMOOCs, rely on video lectures by professors, some student interaction, and online educational tools. These register students in the tens of thousands and some have numbered as many as 160,000 in a class – making it impossible to provide professorial support.  None provide access to institutional library collections. They are very expensive to produce and funded by investors or major institutions. Despite their name, xMOOCs are not open educational resources.

There are many reasons why librarians need to fully understand MOOCs:
  • Academic libraries are committed to serving students enrolled in distance education courses and MOOCs are raising questions around  how services and collections could be provided to students in this transformational medium – as well as how to use MOOCs to assess online services.
  • xMOOCs pose important intellectual property issues for higher education.
  • xMOOCs may serve as a disruptive innovation - leading to questions about their impact not only on teaching, but also on research.  
  • As we come to fully understand MOOCs – including where they intersect with, or are contrary to, established library values – they pose important questions about the role libraries can and should play in the area of Open Education: particularly as it refers to their role as facilitators of their effectiveness and sustainability.
Key Issues 

> Intellectual Property Issues around Openness and Ownership of Property


> xMOOCs and Library Services


> Effectiveness and Sustainability


> Big Data and Libraries

> Conclusion

No one is sure about the impact that MOOCs will have on higher education and we will not know for some time to come. Issues around effectiveness and usefulness will determine whether funding continues to flow to them.  What is not uncertain is the emergence of Open Education -  and the need for libraries to address how they fit into this world based upon their support for openness, access to quality information for all, lifelong learning and support for teaching and learning.

> Recommended Readings

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