MOOCs and librarians – fulfilling the potential

Recent OECD research measured the literacy, numeracy and information skills of adults in 24 countries.  The results show how the divide between those who have skills and those who do not can be perpetuated.  Those with lower skills can be excluded from the job market altogether, or stuck in low paid work.  They can also be excluded from other aspects of society.  However, those who have already achieved high levels of education are much more likely to continue to develop their skills throughout their lives.Statistics also show that the vast majority of those engaging with MOOCs already have some form of degree.  There is no evidence that education is 'opening up' - as yet.MOOCs and universitiesMOOCs have the potential to transform the ways in which people participate in higher education or develop their skills.  For universities they offer new ways for people to engage with the institution (whether virtually, or in real life).  A MOOC can be a shop window for the institution, enhancing its reputation and reaching out to new audiences.   MOOCs have the potential to transform the way that people learn - and teach.   At a lively pre-conference workshop at Internet Librarian International delegates heard from those who had created, taught or been a learner - and considered the potential for librarians to contribute to the success of MOOCs.Learners and MOOCsThe current statistics show that the announcement of a MOOC generates a great deal of interest but that engagement begins to tail off by week two.  Average completion rates are approximately 7-10%.  However, these rates should not been seen as a failure.  Participants do not need to have completed the entire course to have benefited from the process.Jo Alcock, an academic librarian, gave an interesting account of her experiences as a MOOC learner on two courses.   With one course she chose a basic track which involved 2-3 hours of work per week for ten weeks with a final multiple choice exam.  She declined the option to pay a sum for more advanced material.  For the other course she was much more engaged - participating for 8-10 hours per week for six weeks.  Reading was released for the course and she undertook weekly assignments which were graded using a peer review process.  The peer review process was incredibly rich and valuable - both as a reviewer and being reviewed.Lessons learned so far

  • MOOCs represent a new model for education - one which is lifelong rather than something we intersect with periodically
  • It is possible to be a student, a mentor and a teacher simultaneously
  • Creating a MOOC involves so much more than simply making learning materials available online
  • Libraries and librarians should ‘knock on doors' and get involved asap
  • Invite yourself to every meeting you hear about!
  • MOOCs are a great opportunity for librarians - they are truly ‘public' schools!
Opportunities for librarians
  • Helping learners develop their digital skills - with a view to widening participation
  • Facilitating and moderating peer support processes
  • Helping to make connections with OA resources and repositories
  • Copyright and data protection
Speakers at the workshop: Ben Showers, David Lankes; Gavin Beattie; Claire Beecroft; Andy Tattersall; Jo Alcock.[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

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