When the Loon goes to conferences, she observes the Law of Two Webbed Feet: if what she’s hearing is above-average useless to her, she waddles out as quietly and non-disruptively as she can, and finds something more productive to do or listen to.
(Useless to her, mind. Not all presentations that the Loon doesn’t feel a need to hear are actively bad, to be sure.)
It turns out that MOOC learners obey the same law (pace the webbedness or non- of their feet). The Loon isn’t sure why this surprises anyone, or why anyone even thinks it’s a bad thing for learners or for MOOCs. It only makes sense!
The MOOC environment, then, is liable to be rather Darwinianly cutthroat. Bad MOOCs on a given topic won’t thrive unless they’re the only MOOC on that topic, and perhaps not even then. Host-institution prestige may crowd learners into particular MOOC doors, but the Loon doesn’t think it’ll lock them inside. Law of Two Feet; the Ivies don’t necessarily teach any better (particularly online) than the rest of us loons.
The individual MOOCs that survive and thrive, then, are likely to be very, very good. (For a time. Until they become outdated. The Loon thinks there’s more than one reason MOOCs are tending to cluster toward the introductory side of college-level offerings; many upper-division courses change too fast to make sense as labor-light MOOCs. How many MOOC instructors will, over time, turn out to be willing to pour additional effort into updating and modernizing their MOOCs?)
As the Loon does her daily teaching work with the constant low-level hum of hatred from working librarians drumming at her feathered ears, she can’t help wondering what MOOCs mean for library schools, particularly their distance programs.
She doesn’t think library schools or even iSchools will jump at MOOCs, though she could well be wrong about iSchools. (More traditional library schools tend to be at smaller, non-MOOC–enabled institutions as it is.) Moreover, curricula, syllabi, and teaching methods are diverse enough across library schools that the Loon has some little trouble envisioning which courses would draw any learners at all as MOOCs. (Even just within the Loon’s school, the instructor a student draws for a given class may have significant implications for its syllabus and topic coverage. In core courses, this is even becoming a problem we’re having to work at solving. There’s always more to teach than fits in a syllabus; the Loon, like any instructor, plays to her individual strengths.)
For the sake of argument, however, let us posit that someone posts a brilliant, nonpareil MOOC on a core area of librarianship, reference or information organization or what-have-you. What it means for the Loon and all her fellow instructors is that we will have to up our game to improve on the MOOC experience, or students will grumble even more than they already do.
Honestly? Knowing herself not to be the greatest instructor in the world (though she does work at it), knowing that she might well need to change and fix some things… the Loon can’t think that a bad outcome. Bring on yon library MOOCs.
MOOCs: voting with one’s feet by Library Loon, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.