If you aren’t overwhelmed by your library school classes, you may consider supplementing your education via a variety of alternate channels.
What is a MOOC? If you’re a gamer, you may be thinking of certain MMORPG’s right now, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong in doing so. A MOOC, or massive open online course, is an “online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web…[usually through the use of] interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors.” Finding out about different MOOCs for MLS/MLIS students can be difficult if you don’t know where to look, but fortunately there are a few MOOC providers that make it easier. The first of which is Coursera, an education company that partners with universities and other educational organizations to bring free courses to the masses. Another MOOC provider is edX. Though edX has some really interesting courses, many are not aligned with what you will be learning in library school. If you are planning on working in a specialized library, however, taking some of the courses available through edX could help prepare you for types of instructional literacy you may be required to understand. One of the very last MOOC providers is Udacity, whose catalog is currently very limited. Most of what they have to offer is more aligned with the hard sciences, but it can provide a welcome break from reading about information retrieval systems.
Another excellent way to find out about MOOCs is through your university. There are lots of top universities offering free, open access courses. Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, Duke, Harvard, UCLA and Yale all over some form of MOOC content. There is even a University based in the UK called The Open University, that offers all of its courses through distance education.
2. Free-to-View Webinars
Librarians love webinars and library school students are no different. If there is a way to make a presentation a webinar, librarians will find it. One of the best sites for finding free webinars is Webjunction. Webjunction maintains a list of current webinars and has links to archived sessions as well. Another site that you can find information technology webinars on is Cisco’s Webex. Webex contains webinars that you can even view on your iPad, so if you’re not at a University or don’t have access to a computer capable of running a web session, you can go mobile!
Checking with your local university or library is a great place to start too. Many academic librarians offer webinars for new students, or as a resource to students unfamiliar with library resources.
You should even consider creating your own webinars via screencasting if you have learned something of interest in class. This will help you solidify the ideas and concepts you learned, as well as disseminate that information to others. The video below will show you some screencasting basics!
Podcasting has been around for awhile, but it’s still an excellent way to disseminate information. If you have a long commute or need something to listen to at the gym, a library science or information technology podcast may be right up your alley.
A list of podcasts you may find interesting:
- Library of Congress
- Circulating Ideas (Librarian Interview Podcast)
- This Week in Libraries
- Adventures in Library Instruction (archived only)
- Games in Libraries (archived only)
- George and Joan Thinking Out Loud (archived only)
- Dquarium Bibliotech (not updated frequently)
- The WGIL Room (archived only)
- The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory podcast
4. Self-paced Learning Modules (eLearning)
If the speed of MOOCs are a little too intense, you should consider an online self-paced learning module. These learning modules offer interesting courses, which you can take at your own pace. This means that you can finish the course in a weeks’ time, or over several months as you have free time. One of the benefits of these self-paced courses is that you are not at the mercy of others!
The Library of Congress (because it is amazing) offers a few online modules and so does the National Library of Medicine. Another option that you can always look into are the resources available to you through your university. Some colleges and universities have created simple modules to assist students in finding resources, but they can also be helpful to library science students!
A great list of free library-related eLearning sites can be found at Library 2.0.
5. Professional Development Programs
If you are already working at a library, your professional development team should have a list of opportunities for you to check out. Local libraries can also be part of exchange programs, which would allow you access to libraries you may not know much about!
Check out a short list compiled from neflins23things professional development list:
- Start your own blog
- Learn about new technologies (Web 2.0)
- Start a library science RSS feed to keep current
- Explore social media sites and familiarize yourself with new media
- Experiment with photosharing and editing
- Understand how to utilize current web tools and communication tools
- Browse collaboration tools and consider starting your own Wiki
- Build your own search tool using Google Co-op
- View videos related to library issues, create your own
- Subscribe to a podcast, or two…or three!
Check out more of the list from Neflin23things
Your library doesn’t have a professional development team you say? Consider starting one! What better way to learn than through your own actions!
6. Subscribe to listserv’s and RSS feeds
If you’re short on time, consider subscribing to a library science listserv or curated RSS feed list. Creating a list of RSS feeds in The Old Reader is easy (similar to Google Reader), or even check out Feedly if you prefer a different view of your RSS feeds. Most of these RSS readers are available on a mobile device, so even if you’re on the go you can still be connected.
Email may be more your thing and if that’s the case, subscribing to listservs allows the information to be delivered “right to your front inbox.” The Library of Congress (did I tell you how awesome it was yet?) has a wonderful list of library related listservs for you to peruse, as well as some other LIS resources to get you started.
7. Leisure Reading
Last, but not least, read about what interests you! Check out the 50+ Articles Every Librarian Should Read and curate your own list of articles you think would benefit other MLS students.