Panlibus Blog

Strategies for Promoting Open Educational Resources for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

This  is an article from the recent Panlibus Magagine (issue 28) by Gerry McKiernan, Associate Professor and Science and Technology Librarian, Iowa State University Library. This includes all the links that we weren’t able to include in the print version.

As defined by Wikipedia, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is “… an online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web”.

In late autumn 2012, the New York Times declared 2012 as the “Year of the MOOC”. Earlier, the MIT Review, claimed that they were “the most important education technology in 200 years”, and in a cover story, Time, characterized MOOCs as a major factor that was “reinventing college”. The MOOC phenomenon has also been covered by The Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement, among numerous other educational and news media.

In mid-March 2013, the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, hosted a two-day conference titled “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?“. Co-sponsored by OCLC® Research, the event included a session on Copyright, Licensing, Open Access and one on New Opportunities for Librarians: What Happens When You Go Behind the Lines in a MOOC?

Participants in the former session members discussed “the challenges for licensing and clearing copyright for materials” used in MOOCs, and explored the potential “opportunities for advancing the conversation on open access with faculty,” while members of the latter reported and speculated on the roles of libraries and librarians in the MOOC environment. Among those noted were: serving as an advocate for different resource licensing models, identifying and organizing public domain images, as well as encouraging Open Access publishing, and the use of institutional repository content, among other initiatives

Compared to discussion of copyright and licensing negotiations and fair use of proprietary content, however, consideration of Open Educational Resources and their use in MOOCs was not as extensive and implementation strategies were not discussed in detail.

To become more engaged in Massive Open Online Courses and Open Educational Resources, librarians should become more knowledgeable about each.

Open Educational Resources

Professional Development

Librarians can begin to become more knowledgeable about OERs by reading major reviews and white papers such as the Guide on the Use of Open Educational Resources in K-12 and Postsecondary Education, Open Educational Resources as Learning Materials: Prospects and Strategies for University Libraries, and The Roles of Libraries and Information Professionals In Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiatives. Librarians should also become knowledgeable about significant Open Resources projects and sites, as well as other significant work, through such site as the

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, “to develop and use open educational resources, open textbooks, and open courseware to expand access to higher education and improve teaching and learning,” Jorum, a collaboratively-created database that provides access to thousands of OERs that can be searched or browsed; MERLOT, “ … a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy”; OER Commons that provides access to OER sources, training, and support; the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN) whose site provides information about OER events, resources; and other services; the OpenCourseWare Consortium, “ … a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities”; and the OpenOR Hub, a ‘hub for research data and OER excellence in practice.”

Librarians can also become knowledgeable about ORs by attending conferences, seminars, and workshops, either in-person or virtually. Of particular note are the OpenEd Conference held in the United States, the Open Educational Resources conference held in the United Kingdom and the World Open Educational Resources Congress held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

A most appropriate opportunity to learn about OERs and massive Open Online Courses is to take the Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OERs (OER-101 MOOC, “an open, self-paced online community course that has been built to demonstrate how to find, adapt, and develop OERs step-by-step”).

Current Awareness

To remain informed about ongoing developments, librarians should read or subscribe to OER blogs, such as the Open Resources: Influence on Learning & Educators (ORIOLE), and the OER blogs of the University of Bath and the University of Leeds.

Librarians should also consider subscribing to appropriate electronic discussion lists, such as the Library 2.0 Open Educational Resources group; the IL-OERS listserv, the electronic discussion list of the Information Literacy Group and Community Services Group; and the OPENED@JISCMAIL.AC.UK mailing list.

Librarians should also consider following relevant ongoing OER developments via Twitter hashtags (e.g., #oer, #opened, #ukoer).

Promotion

To increase an understanding of OERs within their communities, librarians should actively become involved in promoting each.

Librarians can promote awareness of Open Resources in general by preparing appropriate guides as have the Houston Community College, Renton Technical College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Librarians can further promote OERs among their colleagues by engaging in relevant research and scholarship such as Open Education and Libraries, Reaching the Heart of the University: Libraries and the Future of OER, and What Do Academic Libraries Have To Do With Open Educational Resources?

MOOCs

Professional Development

Librarians can begin to become more knowledgeable about MOOCs by reading major reviews and white papers, such as MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education, and MOOCs Are On The Move: A Snapshot of the Rapid Growth of MOOCs.

Librarians should explore the offerings of MOOC providers by searching or browsing the contents of a variety of directories, for example Class Central; the MOOC List and OnlineCourses.com.

They should schedule time to take a MOOC individually or as a library group. An ideal MOOC may be the MOOC MOOC (http://www. moocmooc.com/ ), a MOOC intended as an “examination of the MOOC phenomenon.”

Librarians should attend conferences, seminars, and webinars, in person or virtually. Notable recent events include Digital Literacies Conference 2013: The Online Leaner and MOOCs held at the University of Southampton (UK), Leveraging Innovations in Online Education to Improve Cost Effectiveness and Increase Quality, and Understanding the Implications of Open Education: MOOCs and More, the SPARC-ACRL Forum to be held during the 2013 American Library Association Annual Conference,

Librarians should also review available recordings or slides such as Embracing OER & MOOCs to Transform Education…, Massive Open Online Courses as Drivers for Change and MOOCs & Librarians. Of particular note is the 2013 ELI Online Spring Focus Session: Learn and MOOCs a two-day program held in early April 2013 that addressed several major issues relating to MOOCs, notably their accreditation; design and implementation; faculty perspectives; student demographics and motivation; and their potential benefits to a campus.

Current Awareness

To remain informed about MOOC developments, librarians should subscribe or regularly visit websites that offer significant news, such as the Alt Ed, a blog “devoted to documenting significant initiatives relating to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), digital badges, and similar alternative educational projects,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, EDUCAUSE, and MOOC News and Reviews, “ … an online publication devoted to thoughtful critique of individual MOOC courses and to discussion of the evolving MOOC landscape.”

Librarians should consider subscribing to the EDUCAUSE Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Constituent Group Listserv, and join the Linkedin MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses group (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/MOOC-Massive-Open-Online-Courses-4652870 ) and the Facebook MOOC group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/216224345082359/).

Librarians should also consider following relevant ongoing MOOC developments via Twitter hashtags (e.g., #moocs, #onlinelearning, #coursera)

Promotion

Librarians can promote MOOCs by compiling library guides about this learning environment, such as Nova Eastern University, University of California, San Diego, Washtenwa Community College.

Librarians can further promote MOOCs among their colleagues by engaging in relevant research and scholarship such as Are You MOOC-ing Yet? A Review for Academic Libraries, Run aMOOC?, Using Information Expertise to Enhance Massive Open Online Courses, and The MOOC and the Library: How Massive Online Only Courses Could Change the Future of Library Instruction.

NEXT STEPS

While Open Educational Resources are among the most well-known of Open Resources, there are others that should also be investigated and considered for integration within the MOOC environment, namely institutional and subject repositories, Open Data sources, Open Access dissertations and theses, Open Access journals and monographs, and Open Textbooks.

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