ARL “brief” on MOOCs

The Association of Research Libraries has issued a brief discussing legal and policy issues of MOOCs. Legal issues focus on copyright. The conclusion summarizes the issues at had for research libraries:

It should be clear from the preceding discussion that libraries have a significant stake in the way their parent and partner institutions approach the MOOC phenomenon. In addition to the strategic concerns already described—keeping fair use on the table, protecting and extending open access policies, ensuring accessibility—research libraries have a more general stake where MOOCs are concerned, which is the continuing relevance of libraries and library collections to university teaching. Will materials in library collections be incorporated, by means of fair use or licensing, into MOOC courses? Will research librarians be trusted experts to whom MOOC instructors turn for help identifying and locating educational resources, whether owned or licensed? Will library values of openness and equal access hold sway, or will the novelty of the MOOC phenomenon lead institutions down a different path? If, as some believe, MOOCs are the future (or at least a significant part or indicator of the future) of university teaching, it is important that research libraries think strategically about how they support this new phenomenon in its formative stages. (p. 15)

Institutions in Canada (and most of Europe) also should consider privacy & anonymity issues of MOOCs. In fact, students are called upon to create accounts and post some information about themselves and their learning process in certain public or quasi-public forums. Although this legal issue can be fixed with clear terms of use, some students may not enjoy the loss of privacy & anonymity that “openness” brings… It seems to me that some thought should be placed on this issue.

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