When I first began work on my Masters through the University of North Texas, I had reservations about how I would do in a mostly online environment. Luckily, I thrived and found the tools provided through Blackboard to more than make up for the lack of “community” or “meeting of the minds”. I did like the fact that the first couple of classes began in person. The other LIS students I met during those couple of weeks I remain in contact with today, several years later. We bonded immediately because we knew our time together was short.
I wrote recently about how the University of Wisconsin and public libraries around their state worked together to provide resources and physical space for discussions for a MOOC on Great Lake climate change. Earlier this year, a university professor made the case for joining MOOC resources and meetups to provide a more meaningful learning experience.
And the Skokie Public Library in Illinois is piloting a program to encourage participation in two Coursera MOOCs by providing a venue for patrons to come together to watch lecture videos and have a “kitchen-table” type conversation about what they learned.
Public libraries and MOOCs have the same goals: to increase access and educate. Librarians want to provide access to quality resources. MOOCs provide that. The biggest barriers for patrons are access to technology. Libraries provide that. And we can provide the physical space and local resources to make the content more meaningful. I really hope to see more public libraries offering this kind of program in the future.