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Archive for the ‘Online Education’ Category

tejas-illustration

Illustration by Tejas

MOOCs a popular abbreviation for ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ being heard everywhere, especially from 2012. The year 2012 was termed as “The year of the MOOC‘ by The New York Times. It shows the popularity of this new medium of online education offered by prestigious universities of the world for free to the masses. The people in hordes irrespective of their age, educational background and geographical area are joining for these courses. The enrollment for these courses across disciplines is huge beyond the imagination of anyone. This new invention has brought in a world class education to the door steps of many, who even would not have dreamt of getting educated from universities like Harvard, Princeton, MIT etc. In spite of their shortcomings as compared to the advantages of face to face education offered in physical campuses they have been widely embraced by the people all across the world. The key players offering these courses include coursera, edx, udacity, futurelearn and many more.

The impact of this new breed of education has been seen across the disciplines, universities, departments and colleges. The field of Library and Information Science (LIS) is no exception to this development. Libraries now have to brace this new medium of education and resolve challenges it has posed in providing services to unlimited number of students. The biggest challenge for libraries is how to cater to the needs of such a widespread and diversified student base with limited number of resources. Next the big question is how to convince the publishers in extending access to resources to these off campus students. To brainstorm librarians about the consequences of MOOCs on libraries, OCLC conducted a workshop in 2013 on ‘MOOCs and Libraries‘ to throw light on many of the issues libraries may face as a result of this new medium of education. This event, I think brought in some amount of clarity regarding the issues libraries are expected face.  Taking a cue from this workshop and few other studies on this topic, I wrote a chapter along with other colleagues for a felicitation volume entitled ‘Library as a Change Agent in Liberation and Deliberation of Higher Education through MOOCs‘ to highlight the issues libraries need to gear for to effectively deal with this new breed of online education.

In regard to LIS education, I feel this new phenomena more than challenges it has brought in opportunities in strengthening the course curriculum across the schools. In the developing world, schools of LIS invariably face several challenges, one among these is the acute shortage of teaching faculty to teach various subjects. I think here MOOCs can play an important role by bringing in collaboration in building the courses on subjects mutually beneficial to schools. Secondly, schools may use some of the courses already available online from different universities in the respective subjects to augment learning skills of students by encouraging them to enroll for such courses and providing discussion on the topic in a flipped classroom environment. Some of the courses presently available in LIS include, MetadataThe Emerging Future,  Copyright for Educators & Librarians, etc. Some of these courses apart from students may also help working librarians in updating their skills. To inform professional colleagues about this new form of education and highlight some of the areas of collaboration, I along with a professional colleague wrote a paper on ‘MOOCs and LIS-Education: A massive opportunity or challenge‘ for a journal ‘Annals of Library and Information Studies‘.   

It is very true that, MOOCs can not meet up to the merits of physical classroom education, but they can certainly make a good value addition by bringing in a variety and enabling learners across geographic regions to learn with no age bar and at no cost. Libraries need to put in extra efforts in meeting needs of such learners by offering facilities such as computers, Internet connection and providing links to free and open access resources. They also can make use of MOOCs to build information literacy courses for the effective use of digital sea of information. Similarly, LIS schools themselves or in collaboration may initiate steps to use this medium to offer few courses using platforms such as coursesites and canvas network

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