Public and academic libraries have been on the sidelines of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) movement since its grand entrance on the higher education stage two years ago. As the information-gathering hubs for many communities, libraries are beginning to explore their role in providing online learning communities and how MOOCs can support their missions to deliver information in the digital age.
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Ridgefield Library in Ridgefield, CT found one way to integrate MOOCs into its programming. The library partnered with Brown University’s MOOC The Fiction of Relationships, hosted on Coursera, and provided in-person meet-up sessions for patrons to take the MOOC together and discuss the coursework afterward. The library was the perfect spot for online learners to meet in person and for people without Internet access to participate in a MOOC. Ridgefield Library’s MOOC meet-up resulted in a 50% completion rate for its MOOC participants, a much higher rate than the average.
Last year, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University took another step in library-led MOOC innovation. As the MOOC movement swelled, Wake Forest University made a conscious decision to not develop these open online courses. Yet, the library staff was left wondering if MOOCs could be a tool for them to disseminate information and better inform students and alumni. The ZRS library wanted to expand its services to reach a wider swath of alumni and parents of enrolled students. As a result, the ZRS library launched its own four-week information literacy MOOC last fall, coining the term mini-MOOC. The ZRS Lib 101 MOOC enrolled five times as many students as its goal. With this unprecedented success, the library continued a series of mini-MOOCs under the ZSRx lifelong learning program.
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Wake Forest’s ZSR library is launching its third mini-MOOC in Digital Publishing to begin on February 14, 2014. The three-week course is open to the public as well as Wake Forest alumni and students, and it explores the world of e-publishing and self-publishing. In an article for PRNewswire, the Dean of ZSR Library, Dr. Lynn Sutton, notes that “this particular open and online course is designed to be a low-barrier way for folks to take their first MOOC.” For anyone interested in learning more about ebooks, this free, mini course could be just the right channel. For more information, visit this course on LearningAdvisor.
Libraries have just begun to dip their toes in the MOOC water, but they are already finding ways to support the lifelong learning synergies between the mission of a library and the mission of MOOCs to provide learning opportunities for all.
Would you like your local library to provide MOOCs?