The library cooperative OCLC recently ran a conference at the University of Pennsylvania for academic librarians entitled, “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?” and the Chronicle of HIgher Education was there to report on this convening.
In this article, the Chronicle points to one librarian from Duke University who mentioned that the popularity of MOOCs has caught people by surprise. Additionally, “She’s been hearing from instructors that ‘the process of preparing courses for this environment made them rethink’ how they teach their on-campus courses. ‘Faculty have said it’s a huge amount of work but that it’s also a wonderful opportunity’.” Advice for librarians was also provided at this event including the fact that librarians need to anticipate a global audience when online courses such as MOOCs are opened up to the masses. Librarians were also advised to take a MOOC themselves in order to fully understand the perspectives of participants.
A librarian from Brown University, Sarah Bordac, also noted that traditional librarian tasks are expanding. “Library personnel might need to negotiate with publishers over course materials, help make fair-use decisions, track down public-domain images, provide digital production services, set up teaching spaces and equipment, and/or provide TAs with extra support, especially when the lead professor is also very busy with on-campus courses. At Brown, Ms. Bordac said, she serves as ;a connector’ among many several different offices and groups, including the university counsel’s office, media services, and the university library.” Clearly, it takes a village to run a MOOC.
Finally, a librarian from the University of California at Berkeley noted that the rapid profusion of MOOCs also means an opportunity to educate higher ed faculty about content ownership and opportunities for the dissemination of knowledge, “Jennifer Dorner is the head of instruction and user services at the University of California at Berkeley. ‘This is a real opportunity to educate faculty about the need for owning the rights to their content and making it accessible to other people,’ Ms. Dorner said in one session. ‘This is a really good place for us to educate them about open source and push them in that direction.’”