Monday, July 29, 2013

What is a MOOC and Why Should We Care?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. The first MOOCs were generally science and technology courses offered for free, with no college credit, taught by expert in the field. As the courses catch on more and more topics are being offered for study and for-profit organizations are trying to get into the game. Some colleges are now charging for access to MOOCs with prices varying depending on whether the student wants CEUs or college credit for the course.

Students taking a MOOC are on their own, even more so than a regular online class.  As such, the drop out rate is high.  But those who complete their course gain skills and  knowledge that can help them get a better job and improve their lives.

As public librarians, it is worth our time to learn a little about MOOCs, because sooner or later someone is going to ask.  Students can enroll in a MOOC without being affiliated with a particular college or university and may need the library for computer access, written materials, or other assistance.

The major MOOC providers are:
Also, some colleges offer their own MOOCs

Student is a site that "offers free access to trusted educational conversations, college reviews, college comparison and match tools, planning guides, a social network of verified advisors and more."  They also have an entire MOOC Advisor site devoted to all things MOOC including student reviews of courses.

For an in depth article about MOOCs check out Massive Open Opportunity by Meredith Schwartz in the May 15, 2013 Library Journal. 

For the sake of full disclosure, I am taking a MOOC through Syracuse University's School of Information Science on Professor David Lankes's book The Atlas of New Librarianship.  It is rigorous, informative, and fun.  I will definitely enroll in another MOOC.

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