What is Online Learning?


Online learning is not new. What has made the topic new is the recent and unprecedented focus on providing learning via the Internet that has been stimulated by the tremendous interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs). What is new in this space is that online learning has “come of age;” the design of online learning is (more and more) specifically intended to encompass the latest research, the most promising developments, and new emerging business models in the online learning environment. At many institutions, online learning is an area newly ripe for experimentation — some would argue it is undergoing a sea change, with every dimension of the process open for reconceptualization. On campuses around the globe, virtually every aspect of how students connect with institutions and each other to learn online is being reworked, rethought, and redone — but it will be some time yet before ideas coalesce enough to be validated by research and implemented broadly.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).
Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 7, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 1, 2015 MOOCs add to the knowledge industry librarians work in, and they are growing apace. Two months ago I reported to our staff on Coursera; it had just passed 11 million Coursereans, today it is at 12.1 million - how is that for rapid growth? I am doing a MOOC now on Irony in Kierkegaard from the U of Copenhagen (his alma mater) that shows us the places relevant in his life and directed by an expert in the field. I have already read most of the works - the Howard and Edna Hong Princeton translations - bought and also from the local University library in Osaka, Japan where I live. So I do not see MOOCs as putting libraries out of business, but librarians should keep in touch with the main providers (Coursera, edX, and Udacity) and direct members to these amazing sites. Besides MOOCs a lot of excellent readings of classic books are now online on YouTube - several years ago I volunteered through Librivox and recorded my readings of several of Plato's dialogues (the Jowett translations) and a 7 hour reading in Middle English of Chaucer's masterpiece "Troilus and Criseyde". Others have put these up on YouTube - unbeknownst to me - and now over 20,000 people have "viewed" my readings! This is an exciting new advent for the book.
  • Replacing face to face information literacy classes with engaging and effective online learning modules is essential to scaling up services to meet the needs of growing student numbers in "regular" courses and MOOCS. Online learning is already expected for most courses, and can be accessible at the time of need, unlike face to face classes. - g.payne g.payne Apr 14, 2015 I so agree with this. The model of a handful of students trooping in and spending an hour with a librarian "learning about sources" is so out of touch with what is possible via large scale learning. Video and media content, badges, gasification could all be incorporated to produce a course that reaches a higher percentage of the student population. It's also a great way to standardize the info lit curriculum. - mstephens7 mstephens7 Apr 19, 2015
  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Apr 14, 2015"...a growing number of students are enrolling in distance learning online college degree programs. Currently, there are more than 4 million people participating in online education with the number increasing every year," our colleagues at CollegeAtlas.org remind us (http://www.collegeatlas.org/why-online-learning.html), so it's fairly easy to see that online learning is highly relevant to the academic and research libraries supporting those learners. As Kevin Johnson notes earlier in this section, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are an interesting and important part of that learning landscape, so are well worth our attention; one great resource exploring how MOOCs fit into the library ed-tech environment is Carmen Kazakoff-Lane's Environmental Scan and Assessment of OERs, MOOCs, and Libraries, published under the auspices of the Association of College and Research Libraries (summary and link to the report available at https://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/scanning-the-mooc-and-open-educational-resources-environment-in-librariesand-beyond/). Online learning is also relevant to academic and research libraries as part of the blended onsite-online learning environment those libraries are increasingly supporting: it puts libraries and library staff where learners are at the learners' moment of need.
  • It's important for librarians to work with faculty and instructional designers creating online courses, to develop research assignments and activities that integrate library resources and good teaching practices from the planning stage. - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015 A recent research project on the MOOC I taught for librarians yielded similar results to your statement. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/04/opinion/michael-stephens/lessons-from-hyperlibmooc-office-hours/

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 1, 2015 Today almost all human knowledge is on the Internet. It is where people look first. Dr. Reif, President of M.I.T., sees MOOCs as the most important advent in education since the printing press. It is still early days for MOOCs and a bright future is assured. edX also will provide much needed research on what works best on this platform, and these refinements will come in time. High quality readings from Librivox (for example) are also now available, and expand the resources for any Library. These are often books from Project Gutenberg (free and in the public domain), and many of these have been posted on YouTube. Librivox books are particularly useful to people with reading impairments as they are audio recordings done by volunteers but in a solid, systematic way.
  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Apr 14, 2015In addition to the business models mentioned in the original description, there are plenty of ed-tech tools and learning models (e.g., connected learning, connectivist MOOCs--which, by the way, can be tremendously engaging, stimulating, and rewarding if learners and learning facilitators approach learning as a collaborative process--and the flipped classroom model) that are making online learning increasingly interesting. Library staff members familiar with those tools and learning models might find themselves in a better position to support contemporary learners than those who are unfamiliar with those developments.
  • MOOCs have not caught on or transformed education as we expected them to a few years ago: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/the-mooc-fades-in-3-charts/55701. Online learning is very important, and growing in importance, but models like Arizona State University's partnership with Starbucks may be more relevant than MOOCs. Also important to note -- in the most recent research from Project Information Literacy (
    http://projectinfolit.org/component/k2/item/73-latest-research) they found that recent graduates are unlikely to use online learning sites like Coursera and Lynda.com. They are much more likely to prefer face-to-face learning, on-the-job mentoring, and general online resources like YouTube and Pinterest.
    - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015
  • The above makes sense but I advocate for large scale learning (what I used to call MOOCs) for ongoing professional development for librarians. Linked my LJ report above. We had almost 400 library folk learning, collaborating and sharing in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC at SJSU. The post course research indicated a high satisfaction level with participants. As travel and conference budgets continue to shrink, I hope there will be more opportunities for open, sweeping, global learning such as ­#hyperlibMOOC. Going forward, an LIS professional might continue to use such platforms to keep current with emerging ideas and issues in librarianship as well as specific subjects of interest. The library advocacy MOOC taught by Wendy Newman at the faculty of information, University of Toronto, currently running, also focuses on a timely and important area of librarianship. I look forward to a rich set of communities offering lifelong learning for LIS professionals.
  • - Sandy.hirsh Sandy.hirsh Apr 19, 2015 In addition to the MOOCs that Michael Stephens mentions, I wanted to mention another MOOC at SJSU iSchool taught by Sue Alman in Fall 2014: The Emerging Future, which provided continuing professional development to people around the world. Libraries need to be able to support and this type of learning in a global community. http://ischool.sjsu.edu/programs/moocs/emerging-future-mooc

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 1, 2015 Libraries may run MOOCs, but also should know of them and help members gain access to the MOOC world, a growing and vibrant arm of contemporary education. Librivox and audio books posted on YouTube are also resources that should be known.
  • - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Apr 14, 2015The potential impact of online learning on academic and research libraries is an increased ability to reach out to, collaborate with, and serve learners and other library users. - Marwin.Britto Marwin.Britto Apr 19, 2015 This has the power to transform the way we provide training, service, support, and deliver instruction for faculty, students and peer librarians.
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - kevin-johnson kevin-johnson Apr 1, 2015 This Symbaloo page provides an index of some of my LIbrivox recordings now posted on YouTube www.symbaloo.com/mix/kevinjohnsonreadings; these readings on YouTube often appear on other channels, and may be found by search.
  • add your response here

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.