Kyle Courtney; Harvard Law Library
Loren Turner; University of Florida College of Law
Jennifer Wondracek; University of Florida College of Law (she was sick and unable to present, but contributed to the presentation)
MOOCs (Massive open online courses) are not a thing of the future or the next big thing, but are in fact happening now. This very interesting and helpful session walked us through MOOCs and the challenges that librarians face when helping create MOOCs.
Kyle spoke first about copyright and IP concerns when it comes to creating a MOOC. These large online classes present new challenges such as the challenges to fair use in a large online class. Fair Use does not quite cover 3rd party materials like it would in a traditional classroom. Syllabus readings may not be available, and ephemeral and aesthetic resources (background art and music, film clips for entertainment) are more likely to be challenged under Copyright Law.
Kyle spoke at length about how he and his team of "Copyright First Responders" deal with MOOCs at Harvard. They work to gain permission from publishers to use chapters (permission is often not forthcoming) and look for open access alternatives or another article that would be on-point for the topic. Fair Use continues to play a large role in the use of materials, but this new territory means that more oversight from librarians is required. One thing that Kyle said that I really enjoyed was that "librarians are managers of legal risk when it comes to copyright", which I think is an ideal way to empower libraries and their roles in academia moving forward.
Loren then walked us through the process of actually creating a MOOC. At the beginning of the entire session, we watched two promotional videos for MOOCs that Harvard and Florida had created. The branding of the MOOCs and the obvious inclusion of librarians in their production suggested that MOOCs can be used to generate interest and use for libraries and for law schools in general. Loren had a 9 step process that she very helpfully and thoroughly went through:
1. Check university policy for MOOC creation and select the MOOC provider you want to work with.
2 Assemble committed and interested faculty. Loren emphasized the 'committed' aspect of this step.
3. Agree on course objectives and goals.
4. Create the videos, research assignments and syllabi. This step is the most involved and also provided insight to how Coursera (the MOOC company Florida worked with) creates their videos. Loren explained how there is a Coursera studio at Florida with a Green Screen and Teleprompter that makes the videos more professional.
5. Determine the Course Certificates and Satisfaction goals. Coursera, as a for-profit company, offers a level called 'signature track' for certain classes that lends more respectability to the certificate for a cost to the student.
6. Launch the Course.
7. Watch the Discussion Forums. Florida's MOOC had 72 pages (!!!) of discussion topics, so hiring student assistants to monitor and track these boards was crucial. They would forward pertinent questions to the professors.
8. Solicit student feedback. Florida's feedback was largely positive.
9. Archive the course.
Access to the resources for students across the globe has proven tricky, as economic sanctions on countries such as Iran mean Coursera must seek special permission to 'send information or services' to that country.
Kyle wrapped up by talking about how there is plenty of space for librarians of all stripes in MOOCs, whether in front or behind the camera. Law librarians are in an especially unique place, since much of the primary content is public domain, making the law MOOCS potentially easier to create and avoid some of the Copyright pitfalls.
MOOCs are an exciting and interesting recent phenomenon that show no sign of going away. I plan on taking a MOOC this summer, and would encourage others to try it out as well. While MOOCs may never replace a traditional course, they can serve as great ways to market your library or school, educate users you wouldn't normally reach, or simply create something original. I'm looking forward to trying out my MOOC, and this session certainly gave me plenty of food for thought.