I’m a huge fan of distance learning since it is one of the main focus areas of my job and also how I obtained my graduate degree. I constantly seek out opportunities to attend webcasts, online courses, Twitter hashtag chats (#medlibs tomorrow on expert searching, anyone?), you name it – I want to experience it all, see what does and doesn’t work, and see how I can adapt my teaching style to be more effective. Speaking of, check out the free new courses from the National Library of Medicine National Training Center along these lines!
Over the weekend I read a great article from The Seattle Times entitled Why some of the best universities are giving away their courses that I highly recommend if you have remained skeptical about all the distance learning buzz as it provides a great overview of the history of distance education and the reasons why more universities are offering classes via Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.
I’ll give away the surprise ending because it’s easy to miss, and more in our field need to think about this role in the future (Sally Gore already is!), bold emphasis mine:
People with hungry minds will always find a way to feed them.
“We’ve had MOOCs and open learning resources for centuries,” says Dave Cillay, executive director of WSU Online. “They’re called libraries.“
The social network analysis course I wrote about earlier began on Monday and I am very impressed thus far. This is not so much due to the content (although I am learning from it!) but the Coursera class page layout, navigability, integration of adult learning concepts (how do they have these videos with quizzes embedded at intervals within them that offer immediate feedback to student answers along with tracking that they’ve been attempted?!) and other features thus far blow everything I’ve experienced in distance learning via Vista, Blackboard, Moodle and other platforms completely out of the water. I want it for my own teaching!
By the way, Massive is an understatement when it comes to this particular online class. Consider the course launched on Monday, this tweet as of just before 6pm Tuesday notes
— Coursera SNA (@SNAcourse) September 26, 2012
I don’t know what librarian involvement there may be in this particular MOOC but I’d like to hope there was some. I see opportunities for health sciences librarians to become involved in similar settings that align well with the international Trends in Health Sciences Librarianship that Mark MacEachern featured (links all better now!
the PubMed link includes a UMich proxy so it’s a little off but you can grab the PubMed IDs ) especially increasing roles as teachers and greater emphasis on online access. My coworker Gail Kouame alerted me to a free webcast series from Libraries Thriving, “A Collaborative Space for e-Resource Innovation and Information Literacy Promotion. Thinking and doing” and I’m checking out their January webcast To Evaluation and Beyond: The Evolving Role of the Embedded Librarian.
More thinking and doing by librarians leads to satiated minds. What better way to do so than checking out quality free education resources that are accessible from anywhere, analyzing the concepts you’ve learned from them to see what would & wouldn’t work for you and your job duties/setting, and sharing with your colleagues?