Magazine article American Libraries

MOOCS: Two Takes on How Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) May Affect Librarians and Library Services

Magazine article American Libraries

MOOCS: Two Takes on How Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) May Affect Librarians and Library Services

Article excerpt


NAME: Paul Signorelli

EXPERTISE: Learning advocate and consultant, active MOOC participant

Are MOOCs here to stay? Why?

MOOCs do appear to be here to stay as part of the overall online learning environment.

The fact that they gained so much attention last year speaks well of the possibilities they offer in extending the reach of learning opportunities. The best of the connectivist MOOCs--those connecting learners across a variety of platforms (e.g., Google+ communities, Twitter, and live and archived learning sites)--have been particularly creative and effective in fostering sustainable learning communities.

What impact do you see MOOCs having on the library's role as the "people's university"?

Just as libraries provide "free" and open access to learning resources, MOOCs provide free and open access to learning opportunities that many might not otherwise have. There is no reason that libraries and those designing and providing MOOCs can't work together in the same way that the New York Public Library system has been working with, or the San Francisco Public Library and others have been working to provide free access to the Learn4Life site.

How will MOOCs affect library services?

Library staff and users can benefit from MOOCs because of their shared common goals. Libraries thrive, in part, as organizations that meet just-in-time learning needs and foster a strong sense of community; connectivist MOOCs in particular might inspire similar positive impacts and augment library learning services.

Should MOOC developers be reaching out to libraries for support and collaboration?

Yes! Library staff also need to reach out to MOOC developers. Though I don't expect to see any libraries taking the lead in developing and delivering MOOCs in the immediate future because of other priorities, I do believe library staff--especially those already immersed in providing formal learning opportunities--have much to offer anyone involved in developing and delivering learning opportunities online and face to face.

How do you see MOOCs evolving? How do you think they will fare in various settings (i.e., academic vs. public)?

MOOCs have already passed the phase of being mistakenly seen as a panacea for "all that's wrong" with learning (unresponsiveness to learners' needs, too costly, inaccessible to many who need it). We are now more realistically determining what MOOCs can accomplish in teaching-training-learning and determining how they fit into our overall learning environment. There's clearly a place for them in academic and public learning venues, but we have to overcome resistance from those who judge them against traditional grade-based learning programs.

Should librarians accept MOOCs as a legitimate form of professional development for themselves?

Library staff members should accept all learning as a legitimate form of professional development. MOOCs, like so many other learning opportunities, can be tremendously transformative if they are well-designed, well-delivered, and responsive to learners' needs. David Lankes's "New Librarianship Master Class" MOOC offered through the Syracuse University iSchool in 2013 was a wonderful example of how a MOOC can provide a first-rate learning experience. We need more of these.


NAME Amanda Hovious

EXPERTISE: Candidate for Master's in Instructional Design and Technology

Are MOOCs here to stay? …

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