#hyperlibMOOC Research Update
Published: May 9, 2014 by Michael Stephens
Since the end of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC offered last semester here at SLIS, Kyle Jones, my co-instructor, and I have been writing up various parts of the research we’ve done on the MOOC. Here are some highlights from the pre and post MOOC surveys. These findings will be published this fall in the Journal of Library and Information Science Education.
Interest in MOOCs
In the pre-course survey, students discussed why they were interested in the HL MOOC. Our coding of 101 open-ended survey questions revealed three major thematic categories, ranked in order of frequency:
1. Students felt the course’s low barriers to enrollment (primarily cost), structure, and time requirements would be convenient (53%).
2. Students believed the course would aid their professional development and lifelong learning (45%).
3. Students wanted to better understand our MOOC model (38%).
Overall, students believed the MOOC would provide a convenient learning opportunity. Convenience was often framed in terms of the time requirements, the duration of the course, its accessibility online, and the portability (e.g., access via mobile devices), as well as the cost of the course. “I don’t have time or money to go to conferences,” responded one student, and “MOOCs provide a way to engage with other professionals working on the same issues in other libraries and for a reasonable cost and time-commitment,” said another.
Self-Reported Success Rates and Characteristics
In the post-course survey, 76% percent of survey respondents indicated that they felt somewhat or completely successful. To help us understand how they came to that assessment, we asked students how they gauged their success in the course. By coding 101 qualitative answers, we saw four major categories emerge, which are listed below in order of frequency:
1. Students judged that they were successful if they were able to consume course lectures and readings, as well as complete assignments (62%).
2. Students perceived success when they understood core concepts from the course and knew how they could make direct application of that knowledge (49%).
3. Students measured their success based on the amount of interaction they had with their peers (32%).
4. Students indicated that they did not feel successful due to time constraints (14%).
Completing assignments, working towards the certificate of completion, consuming course readings, and watching instructor and guest lectures served as markers for students to judge their success in the course. Some students responded that they felt successful when they understood core concepts and models introduced in weekly materials and lectures.
What Students Took Away from The HL MOOC
In the post-course survey, 101 respondents answered the question “What did you gain most from taking part in the MOOC?” The question offers insights into the most salient takeaways from the course for the respondents. These include the following thematic areas ranked in order of frequency:
1. Students learned about new ideas, new knowledge, and new trends (61%).
2. Students discovered that they are able to learn, collaborate, and discuss/exchange ideas with others in evolving networks and with those beyond their individual library environments (16%).
3. Students gained insights about themselves through personal reflection about their learning styles, professional practices, and the ways they view the world (16%).
4. Students gained inspiration, energy, and excitement about the field (12%).
5. Students gained new technological skills through their learning experience (7%).
Clearly, the majority of the participants came away with new information and ideas. One respondent noted “Seeing all the new technology in action and seeing what we can actually use it for, and realising that it is for me and not just other people…I have a lot of ideas I would now like to follow up.” Another reported new insights and “more exposure to innovative public library programming,” while another student was “getting ideas to try to implement in [her] own library.” The other categories, while not as prominent, detail other significant takeaways. One participant gained knowledge “that there is a community that is worldwide who have wonderful ideas to offer me and that I have some ideas to offer others,” while another found “a new motivation.” The concept of a renewed interest in the profession was noted via responses such as “Rekindling of interest in service aspect of librarianship” and “[Regained] pleasure in my daily work.”
We’ll be refining the Hyperlinked Library MOOC for offering in Spring 2015. The data and findings coming from the research studies will afford us the opportunity to improve the delivery of our course and the platform. We believe this model, after further refinement, could and should be replicated for other professional development courses and initiatives. It offers a low-cost means to create professional development learning communities, which could be adopted by other LIS programs, organizations, and consortia for similar educational purposes. We would advocate for future partnerships with professional associations, institutions of higher learning, or non-profits to use the model to offer continuing opportunities for lifelong learning.
Kyle M. L. Jones received his MLIS in information science from Dominican University in 2009 with honors. He has worked professionally at award-winning institutions: the A.C. Buehler Library at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, IL and at Darien Library in Darien, CT. Currently, Kyle is a third-year doctoral student in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and teaches on topics related to digital tools, trends, and controversies.