Quick thoughts on #mooclib

Today was day 1 of the OCLC Research and University of Pennsylvania “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?” event. There was a lot of Coursera love emanating from the stage. Sometimes it felt like an infomercial. EdX had a presence there as well. One of the presenters acknowledged that there was a MOOC thing before Sebastian Thrun did his AI experiment, but for the most part everyone seemed blissfully unaware of all the work and research that has informed and come out of what Seimens, Downes, Cormier, et al. have been doing.

I don’t mean to sound snarky and negative, but if we’re going to talk about what MOOCs mean to libraries and what the librarian’s place is in a MOOC, it would help to have a good idea of what MOOCs are. As I see it, the basic MOOC design principles of aggregate, remix, repurpose, and feed-forward (as described variously in Wikipedia, Change11, and Mackness) have information literacy written all over them, so this is a natural point of entry for librarians. I plan on examining these connections in more detail in the future.

I tweeted something about participation versus passively watching videos (like in a Coursera style MOOC) which raised a question that I didn’t have the time to get to:


Great question. But do we have to moderate and curate? Participants should own their own learning. They should own their content. It’s all part of who they are, online and off. Curation is on them. We can help by modeling and offering pointers and how-tos. If students are engaged in this process of documenting their learning and creating artifacts, they are building portfolios which may be more valuable in the long run than transcripts.

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