Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Librarian of MOOC


It seems that everybody is talking about massive open online courses (MOOCs). Steven J. Bell sang their praises during a doom and gloom ACRL/NEC keynote. The Ubiquitous Librarian, Brian Mathews, credited the universities who pioneer(ed) MOOCs with “inventing the future,” in a recent essay for The Chronicle Blog Network. And, the New York Times published a story last week about how the ventures of MOOC companies, like Coursera, are “part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education.” Readers’ reactions were mixed.

[snip]

This leads me to my primary reason for enrolling. I’d like to evaluate MOOCs from my perspective as an academic librarian. When I reviewed Coursera’s online offerings, I could not find a single course that required research. Even in a class with multiple writing assignments, such as A History of the World since 1300, students aren’t asked to seek, read, or reference evidence to support their theses. To be fair, the instructor suggests a textbook for serious students: his own, in fact. [snip].

While I am fully aware of the licensing and copyright laws that prohibit MOOCs’ prestigious instructors from recommending that students exploit collections of scholarly resources, I see no reasons why these online learners can’t be urged toward authoritative websites, open access articles, works in the public domain, and the physical and digital holdings of public libraries. [snip].

In my review of Coursera and one of its top competitors, Udacity, I see no evidence of either virtual libraries, subject/course resource guides, or recommended websites. Librarians don’t teach courses, nor will they find employment opportunities at Coursera or Udacity ([snip[

[snip]

[http://chasingreference.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/thelibrarianofmooc/]

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