Saturday, June 29, 2013

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


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, theMIT 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.

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