Monthly Archives: May 2013

More about learning and libraries

Yesterday, I posted about the libraries role in regards to giving people space, equipment and motivation in order to get the most out of MOOCs. Today I’m going to talk about why that is so very important.

In yesterday’s ReadWrite article on “10 Technology Skills That Will No Longer Help You Get A Job“, Brian Hall lists 10 dying technologies that are perhaps not what young folks want to study these days. At the end of the article, however, he mentions that one skill that is always necessary is the ability to learn. My coworker, Heather Braum, has on her email signature line the quote:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those cannot read and
write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ~Alvin Toffler, *Rethinking
the Future*

The point being that no matter what we learn today, the chances are that in this fast paced technological era in which we live, tomorrow we will likely have to learn another skillset in order to be able to feed ourselves. Nobody can afford to go to college that often, quite frankly, so I’m going to suggest that the idea I posed yesterday – about libraries supporting local MOOC groups – may be more important than ever in the future. Sure – there are commercial training outfits, but they can be very, very pricey (though not as pricey as college, says the woman whose child is about to graduate from high school in a couple of weeks) and will cut out the very people libraries are there for – the folks who can’t afford high training class fees.

So, the role of libraries as educators (most especially as free educators) in society is vitally important today, but will become even more important tomorrow and beyond. What are you doing in your library to encourage life-long and self-motivated learners? What are you doing to encourage those who might not be quite as motivated?

Libraries and Education (yes, I’m going to use the word MOOC – a lot)

Sorry for those folks who feel they’ve heard *way* too much about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) lately… While reading “Why online education is mostly a fantasy” at Pandodaily today, I was struck by his comparison of libraries to MOOCs. Libraries have offered free education and learning to anybody who asks for years and, as the author of the piece points out, there are few self-made entrepreneurs who learned everything they needed to know to start their business in the library. For the same reasons (mainly motivation), the author believes that MOOCs will be similarly unsuccessful in providing free education to the masses.

What if, however, libraries used the advantage of local spaces and face-to-face meeting possibilities along with the advantages of MOOCs to create study groups. Anyone with an interest in a particular class can sign up and the local students could use a library meeting room, library computers and each other. With equipment, space and motivation to continue provided by fellow students, combining MOOCs with Libraries seems to me to be a pretty sweet combination. Librarians can get people in the doors by offering space and, maybe, refreshments (though not near the computers, maybe?) and patrons can sign up to take classes and form study groups while educating themselves – something libraries should always be prepared to support!

Is this already being done? I think the possibilities are endless – especially for a library that knows its patrons and can connect circ stats to what patrons might be willing to learn about.  The author of the article ends with:

most people [will] continue to require structure and a supportive learning environment in the modern age of online education

Why can’t libraries be the institutions that step up and make that supportive learning environment happen?