10 + 2 useful reports on #MOOCs and online education

The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) published a digest of useful reports about MOOCs and online learning three days ago (25 June).

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.

 The new reports:

TechNavio, 2014. Global Massive Open Online Courses Market 2014-2018. Infiniti Research Limited. Available at: http://www.technavio.com/report/global-massive-open-online-courses-market-2014-2018 [Accessed July 27, 2014].

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).

Gordon, L., Peters, M.A. & Besley, T., 2014. The Development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in New Zealand, Hamilton, NZ. Available at: https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/development-of-moocs [Accessed July 26, 2014].

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.

From ICDE’s list

Hollands, F.M. & Tirthali, D., 2014. MOOCs: expectations and reality, Available at: http://cbcse.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MOOCs_Expectations_and_Reality.pdf [Accessed July 12, 2014].

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).

Kelly, A.P., 2014. Disruptor, Distracter, or What?: A policymaker’s guide to massive open online courses (MOOCs), Available at: http://bellwethereducation.org/sites/default/files/BW_MOOC_Final.pdf [Accessed July 26, 2014].

MOOCs clearly provide new opportunities to learn. But so do public libraries. (2014, p. 16)

Gaebel, M., 2014. MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses. European University Association Occasional Paper An update on developments in first paper published January 2013, Available at: http://www.eua.be/Libraries/Publication/MOOCs_Update_January_2014.sflb.ashx [Accessed July 26, 2014].

No mention of any library-related issues except for a brief reference to the British Library as part of the UK FutureLearn partnership.

Grainger, B., 2013. Introduction to MOOCs: Avalanche, Illusion or Augmentation?, Moscow. Available at: http://iite.unesco.org/publications/3214722/ [Accessed July 26, 2014].

 This policy brief does not mention any library-related implication.

Van der Vaart, L., 2013. e-InfraNet: “Open” as the default modus operandi for research and higher education M. van Berchum et al., eds., Netherlands: e-InfraNet. Available at: http://e-infranet.eu/output/e-infranet-open-as-the-default-modus-operandi-for-research-and-higher-education [Accessed September 4, 2013].

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)

Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, 2013. 2013 Survey on Technology and Instruction: Taking the Board to School on Educational Technology, Washington, D.C. Available at: http://agb.org/reports/2013/2013-survey-technology-and-instruction-taking-board-school-educational-technology [Accessed July 26, 2014].

This survey does not touch upon any library-related implications.

Mor, Y. & Koskinen, T. eds., 2013. MOOCs and Beyond: eLearning Papers 33.European Commission, p. 7. Available at: http://elearningeuropa.info/en/news/moocs-and-beyond-elearning-papers-33-released [Accessed August 27, 2013].

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.

Yuan, L. & Powell, S., 2013. MOOCs and disruptive innovation: Implications for higher education. eLearning Papers, 33. Available at: http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/article/MOOCs-and-disruptive-innovation%3A-Implications-for-higher-education [Accessed July 26, 2014].

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.

Voss, B.D., 2013. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): A Primer for University and College Board Members, Washington, D.C. Available at: http://agb.org/reports/2013/massive-open-online-courses-moocs-primer-university-and-college-board-members [Accessed July 26, 2014].

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).

Some thoughts:

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.

Reference list (other than the above)

McCallum, C.M., Thomas, S. & Libarkin, J., 2013. The AlphaMOOC: Building a Massive Open Online Course One Graduate Student at a Time. eLearning Papers, 33. Available at: http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/article/The-AlphaMOOC:-Building-a-Massive-Open-Online-Course-One-Graduate-Student-at-a-Time?paper=124335 [Accessed July 26, 2014].

Sandler Research, 2014. Global Massive Open Online Courses Market 2014-2018. SandlerResearch.org. Available at: http://www.sandlerresearch.org/global-massive-open-online-courses-market-2014-2018.html [Accessed July 28, 2014].

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].

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One Response to 10 + 2 useful reports on #MOOCs and online education

  1. fred6368 says:

    Shocking! Academics not recognising the work of others in education? I don’t think academics nor researchers are interested in learners (unless they are paid to research them) so librarians being ignored, whilst being a point well made Eleni, is mostly in keeping with their historical practice. Digital practice, especially MOOCs, seems to require more learning support from across educational institutions rather than less I think?. Some observations on the present & future impact of UK MOOCs are in my curated conversation on e.g. more support for self-determined learning http://bit.ly/ukMOOC

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