MOOC Meets Learning 2.0


Published: May 11, 2013 by Michael Stephens

In Fall 2013, the SJSU School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) will be offering its first open online course, the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. It is adapted from an existing online graduate course offered to SJSU students enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, and is intended to serve as a professional development opportunity for librarians, library staff, and professionals who work in libraries and other types of information centers.The SLIS MOOC will be free and will not be offered for academic credit. It will run from September to November, and will explore how libraries are using emerging technologies to serve their communities. I will be co-teaching with SLIS Lecturer Kyle Jones, along with course assistants, who will be SLIS graduate students. The MOOC will run on the open-source blogging platform WordPress enhanced with a suite of plug-ins called BuddyPress.

Up to 400 MOOC students will have the opportunity to explore the Hyperlinked Library model through recorded presentations and other content, as well as practical assignments that encourage students to apply what they are learning. Badges will be awarded as students move through the course, culminating with a certificate of completion.

Although educators and scholars are debating the advantages and downsides of MOOCs, with many asserting that MOOCs have the potential to provide new insight regarding online learning, research regarding MOOCs is in its infancy. A recent study by The Chronicle of Higher Education found that 79% of MOOC instructors believe MOOCs are “worth the hype” (Kolowich, 2013). John Daniel’s 2012 paper Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility explores emerging issues that educators should consider and scholars should research: technology platforms, for-profit versus nonprofit models, effective pedagogy, and student success within large learning environments. A scan of recent research includes assessing the experiences of students and professors in MOOC environments, and evaluating various MOOC platforms and their impact on student learning. Clearly, evaluating MOOC environments is an area ripe for exploration.

The parallels between the MOOC movement and 23 Things/ Learning 2.0 programs, my research area for the past few years, are intriguing. Might we argue that Learning 2.0 (L2.0) programs, offered in hundreds if not thousands of organizations, are precursors to the evolving, open and large scale learning landscape we’re experiencing now?

The #hyperlib MOOC will incorporate certain emphases culled from my L2.0 research. The L2.0 model has an emphasis on play, experimentation and social interaction with other learners as part of the program. A focus on play, innovation and experimentation is needed for 21st century learning success, argue Thomas and Brown in a New Culture of Learning. Jenkins defined play as “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving,” and argued that play is one of the most important emerging social literacies and valued skills for the changing landscape of education. The L2.0 model combines play and opportunities to explore new technologies into a unique self-directed yet social learning experience.

The MOOC will also based on the concepts of “connected learning,” a term used by Jenkins (2012) to describe participatory online learning with a real-world focus: “It’s social. It’s hands-on. It’s active. It’s networked. It’s personal. It’s effective. Through a new vision of learning, it holds out the possibility for productive and broad-based educational change.”

Research centered on delivering the #hyperlib MOOC will contribute to a better understanding regarding how not-for-credit MOOCs can serve as professional development tools. I am eager to evaluate the SLIS MOOC, identify areas where the model is effective, and provide recommendations regarding how to improve the design of MOOCs in the future.


Daniel, J. (2012). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility.

Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME). Retrieved from

Jenkins, H. (March 1, 2012). Connected learning: A new paradigm [Web log post].

Kolowich, S. (2013, March 18). The minds behind the MOOCs. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.



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