Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), short courses that are delivered online for free, are said to be taking the academic world by storm. Thousands of courses in many languages are on offer from top universities all over the world.
One such offering is Copyright for Educators & Librarians, launched in 2014 by Duke University in the US. The aim of the course is to ‘begin to demystify the law and help educators and librarians do their jobs more effectively’.
Aleksandra Xhamo, EIFL-IP coordinator in Albania, recently completed Copyright for Educators & Librarians with distinction.
“It was an excellent experience. I strongly recommend it”, said Aleksandra, who is Librarian at the University of New York Tirana. “The course featured practical scenarios that come up in everyday work, and taught me a step-by-step way to analyze copyright questions and problems that arise”.
The free online course, which took place over four weeks in July and August 2014 comprises four units: a framework for thinking about copyright; authorship and rights; specific exceptions for teachers and librarians; and understanding and using fair use. Note that while the course deals with US copyright law, the general principles can (and should) be applied to your national copyright law, as appropriate.
The course format includes online video lectures that are available 24/7, a discussion forum, reading material, a weekly quiz and an end of course assignment.
“I learnt so much from the other participants, as well”, said Aleksandra. “The course has given me a confidence boost. Often there is no simple yes or no answer to copyright issues, it’s a question of applying your knowledge to a given situation. I am now a big fan of MOOCs and the opportunities they offer for professional development!”
At the 2013 EIFL General Assembly ‘Trends to Watch’ session, Kevin Smith, Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University introduced MOOCs and the impact on library services [link to slides]. Kevin is an instructor on Copyright for Educators & Librarians, and had this to say about the experience:
"The opportunity to teach this MOOC gave my colleagues and me a wonderful opportunity to reach a large and diverse group of students we could never bring together in another format. We had over 10,000 participants, who came from 130 different countries, and that diversity contributed to the peer-learning that was the most exciting part of the course. The discussion forums were filled with examples of participants teaching each other, as well as comparative discussions about the application of the copyright laws of different nations."
Although the exact date has not been determined yet, the course is expected to run again early in 2015. Potential participants can register at the Coursera site and add the course to their “Watchlist” in order to receive notification when a start date is announced.
To find out about MOOCs on offer globally, check the directory of MOOCs from different providers (browse by topic, language, university, etc.)