The summer time is the ideal period for all Academic Librarians to recharge their batteries in anticipation of the new term. My recharging time includes a lot of pausing to reflect on my annual professional praxis and set new personal and professional goals for the year to come. Unlike the end of the calendar year, the academic year is complete mid-summer, a time for me to take stock and create resolutions.
This academic year has been very busy and I barely managed to blog about everything that happened. Two of my posts were about my involvement in CoPILOT and our collaboration with the OU OER Research Hub (OERRHUB).
In this post, I revisit this piece of research and reflect upon it.
CoPILOT stands for Community of Practice for Information Literacy Online Teaching and is a collaborative effort to disseminate information among librarians, fill in training needs with regards to OER and influence Open Educational Practice (OEP).
CoPILOT was the outcome of a research project and therefore any further research activities are part of the community’s DNA. This year we had the opportunity to collaborate with the researchers for the Open University Research Hub and further explore Librarians’ attitudes towards OER. Most importantly, we had the opportunity to investigate to what extent OER adoption attitudes have changed since Bueno-de-la-Fuente’s, Robertson’s & Boon’s report, (2012); De Beer’s (2012) SCORE findings; Graham’s and Secker’s report (2012), along with Harris’s (2012) and Taylor & Francis’s most recent findings (2013).
In preparation of the questionnaires, we reviewed all the known surveys that targeted Librarians’ use of OER but also we broadened our review to other reports that referred to Librarians’ role in openness in general. We believe that our roles are evolving as a result of open initiatives undertaken by our Institutions and therefore OER cannot be seen in isolation.
These reports, along with our personal interactions with colleagues, enriched our perspective and informed the formation of the questionnaires to fit a global community of Librarians.
Problem solving: While the literature review can be seen as a lonely process and due to my research interest it preceded the survey, the formation of questions was a collaborative bouncing of ideas that could start as a thinking-loudly reflective monologue evolving to a dialogic inquiry between representatives of CoPILOT and the OERRHUB researchers. That was a very productive collaborative practice giving us a taste of working remotely but effectively as a team and liaising back with our extended communities.
The following section reflects the broader perspective among CoPILOT members. Ella Mitchell, Chair of the Committee comments:
What key findings have come from evaluation activities undertaken by this piece of research?
The results concur with earlier surveys mentioned above and in the literature review. While it is good that the previous surveys have been supported by the findings of this research, it might also require some further analysis to investigate if more conclusions can be drawn from the research.
The quality of OERs seems to be questioned; perhaps, this is a reason why their use is not always so widespread. Also finding where OERs are still seems to be an issue and certainly ties with CoPILOT’s main objectives in providing training for librarians in those aspects.
One of the questions that come to mind is whether a more widespread creation of OERs would improve their quality. While less than 15% of respondents had replied to say they had created and published resources under a CC licence it seems that the demand outstrips the supply.
What opportunities and barriers currently exist that the project could help with?
Perhaps an opportunity exists to explore the reasons why so few respondents have produced OERs. It would be beneficial to know what holds librarians back from producing Open Educational Resources so that we could inform our training and workshop activities.
CoPILOT outreach and conferences:
CoPILOT members attended and presented in several conferences during the year where the above results were shared with a broad audience. The lively feedback received from colleagues worldwide through Social Media, along with the high number of viewings following the upload of the presentations suggest a wide dissemination of the CoPILOT impact. (e.g. Secker’s presentation in Portland has attracted 6,657 views to date.) These conferences included:
Pitt, R., Graham, N. & Zazani, E., 2014. Spreading the Word! Librarians and Open Educational Resources. In OER14: building communities of open practice. Newcastle, 28-29 April 2014. Available at: http://www.medev.ac.uk/oer14/45/view/ [Accessed March 6, 2014].
Bueno-de-la-Fuente, G., Robertson, J., & Boon, S. (2012). The roles of libraries and information professionals in Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives: Survey Report (p. 52). Retrieved from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2012/492
In this post, I look at these reports closely, to identify whether Library services and librarians’ involvement were included and to also take the opportunity to add two more recent reports to the ICDE’s list. If you manage to read up to the end of this post you will find some of my concluding thoughts and a call for adding your views.
This report is the most recently published report (July 07 2014) covering a global forecast about the growth of MOOCs. The 56-pages report envisages that MOOCs will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.61 percent between 2013-2018.
Unfortunately, I cannot have access to the report due to its cost – being $2,500, for personal use – and therefore I can’t say with certainty whether TechNavio’s analysts considered the impact and challenges for academic libraries in their respective section.
It’s worth having a look at the table of contents and the snippets they reveal, such as the fact that learning analytics and management of big data are a major trend. As it was published in the press release “Big data tools and analytics are increasingly contributing to the increasing popularity of MOOCs. Universities are turning to MOOC providers for large student data analyses. Examination outcomes and assignment grading are made easy with MOOCs because of the online nature, which is otherwise a slow and tedious procedure with traditional data gathering techniques. The records are easily managed with big data tools, giving educators the advantage of real-time data management” (Sandler Research, 2014, para. 2).
The report aims to provide a baseline account (pp. 1, 5) and raise awareness of MOOC-related developments in New Zealand to a mix of educational stakeholders. Although I found the report highly enlightening, the only reference to libraries was made during a discussion with the study’s participants (from which this report arose) on whether a New Zealand MOOC platform should be created, where the National Library Te Papa would be one of the partners, imitating the FutureLearn model.
Hersh pointed out that it would be prohibitively expensive to provide student services including academic counselling, library services, tutoring, and proctoring to thousands of MOOC participants (2014, p. 61).
This paper takes a broader view of openness and discusses some of the institutional implications potentially affecting Libraries as well. For instance, it refers to the preservation of digital assets using as an example the library-led open source LOCKSS system and the importance of up-skilling librarians to be able to proactively assist researchers with OA topics and in managing Research Data.
Finally it refers to the aims of EUDAT (European Data Infrastructure), one of which is to engage libraries in defining and shaping a platform for shared services that makes it possible for data-intensive research to span all the scientific disciplines .(2013, p. 70)
This issue is dedicated to MOOC case studies including ten papers. Visibility of Librarians is found in the issue’s last article where the authors McCallum, Thomas & Libarkin suggest that Librarians (among other specialties) need to be part of multidisciplinary teams.
Taking as example the delivery of the FoS (Foundations of Science) MOOC in the University of Michigan, the librarians were part of the interdisciplinary teams.
The ICDE showcases only this article from the eLearning Papers as part of the ten recommended MOOC reports mentioned directly above it. While it is not clear why this particular article is more significant than the remaining nine, it doesn’t bring any special focus to librarians and any potential disruption to Libraries.
It makes two references; the first compares the participating mode in MOOCs as opposed to “older forms of online learning” (2013, p. 4) (synchronous vs. asynchronous delivery and participation where learners used to listen to the lectures using Library facilities) and the second refers to the Institutional readiness mentioning essential Library services such as “resource discovery, copyright clearance” (2013, p. 19).
Interestingly, the reports that broadly discuss openness acknowledge the Librarians ‘emerging role, while in the MOOC-related reports the visibility of Librarians is sparse.
I noticed a similar pattern during my research, while comparing the growing number of Higher Education Institutions offering MOOCs in contrast to the low volume of articles being published by Librarians discussing their contributions in MOOC planning and delivery.
The New Zealand report discussed above raises an interesting point regarding how much Institutions are willing to reveal about their MOOC-related plans. In particular Gordon, Peters and Besley noticed the paradox between the notion of openness and the fact that “some organisations were keen to control the message about MOOCs in their organisations” (2014, p. 6).
It is not clear whether Academic Librarians are bound by a similar code-of-silence-principle as an extension of their Institutional culture or their involvement is not considered significant to be mentioned. The literature available along with empirical evidence does not necessarily support the latter argument. Librarians do play important role in online delivery of courses and certainly have a strong interest in how MOOCs are affecting their current workloads and roles.
I would be very interested to hear any views in these thoughts that perhaps can shed some light to the lack of discourse involving the Academic Library in the majority of the reports. You can either comment below the post or contribute your view anonymously in the box below.
The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), 2014. Ten useful reports on MOOCs and online education. ICDE. Available at: http://www.webcitation.org/6RM0YPkiL [Accessed July 26, 2014].
Around late October 2013, I had posted an invitation to participate in a survey circulated by the OER Research Hub (OERRH) in collaboration with the Community of Practice for Information Literacy Online Teaching (CoPILOT).
The OERRH researcher Beck Pitt started reporting on preliminary results from both questionnaires that targeted Librarians’ views, challenges and practices on creating and using OER, on licensing-related issues, and whether they measure the impact of those efforts.
The 312 respondents contributed to great deal of insight but they also brought to the surface new research questions, for instance,
To what extend are librarians making a decision in distributing to students compulsory/optional OER material?
It took me a while but I finally got there… I can know consider myself a Chartered Librarian!
Celebrating the completion of my Chartership came as a surprise to me; I hadn’t thought it would give me such joy! Possibly because I tend to take as granted the fact that learning is a lifelong process and it makes sense when we spent some time to critically reflect on it.
Click on the image to download the portfolio.
Peter Elbow (1998) worked on the concept of “free writing” as a technique to overcome the writing block, as well as capturing an idea as it occurs without worrying about the rules of good/bad writing. Especially during my Chartership process, it was worth engaging in a 5min activity of reflecting on new ideas which enabled me to observe my growth when new meaning was becoming part of me.
The good habit of taking action on my learning and see it via a reflective lens was perhaps the most valuable outcome of my Chartership.
I also seized the opportunity to engage with Open practices and therefore I licensed my portfolio with a Creative Commons Licence making it public in case other candidates can benefit from relevant examples the way I did. Moreover, I wanted to reinforce the idea that everything on the web may be public but not free to use unless the creator has stated so.
Finally, having heard of the outcome of my application, it dawned on me how significant the mentor is to the mentee’s achievement.
I would like to thank my mentor, David Clover who helped me see the Chartership through and for his immense patience, as well as Elizabeth Charles and Maria Cotera for the rich conversations and multi-level support and guidance throughout the past three years.
Elbow, P., 1998. Writing without teachers 25th ed., New York: Oxford University Press.
The COPILOT (Community of Practice for Information Literacy Online Teaching) collaborated with the researchers of the OERRH to develop a questionnaire and investigate how Librarians think about and use different types of online resources.
The research data produced by the project will help people around the world make more informed decisions about online teaching and learning.
I set up a Mendeley group for librarians across all sectors to share literature and resources about the evolving nature of MOOCs and the role of the librarian. You don’t need to be directly involved with MOOCs to join. All are welcome! Members are also encouraged to share their experiences of participating in the MOOC provision in their Institutions. If you have any questions please add them in the comments below or send me a message via twitter to @EleniZazani
There is an ever-growing literature about MOOCs but which is this piece that influenced your thinking most? Let’s start adding content with the most influential for you text.