Connie Crosby asks an interesting question on the SLAW blog: Where Are the MOOCs for Law Librarians? She’s really channeling Katie Thomas in posing the question. Thomas identifies programs for librarians, though these are aimed broadly at information science. There really aren’t any that mix law and librarianship as related concepts. I can think of a couple of reasons why there aren’t any specific MOOC offerings for law librarians.
One is that there is a lot of background technical work that goes into making a MOOC work successfully. Universities that offer MOOC’s will partner with entities such as Coursera rather than building the necessary infrastructure from scratch. Another is that LIS programs tend not to offer more than one or two courses that focus directly on law librarianship. I would think that any MOOCs they present would reflect that limited specialization within their courses.
That leaves the professional organizations as a possible sponsor of MOOCs aimed at law librarians. There is certainly no lack of educational opportunities at the AALL annual meeting. The regional chapters put on educational programs at least once per year. Could they possibly present these as a MOOC? I don’t know. I think the professional organizations are the most likely organizers of content aimed at law librarians.
AALL offers webinars from time to time. The next one is The Law of E-books scheduled for October 24th. The description notes “This program is sponsored by AALL/Bloomberg Continuing Education Grants Program.” Maybe it’s time to explore partnerships with vendors to underwrite a law librarian MOOC. I’ll say from the outset that I’m not addressing the politics of vendor partnerships. There is a model and a precedent, however, for the idea that a vendor can help underwrite a CLE program. Why not in the form of a MOOC? I would hope that AALL and the regional chapters consider the idea. Maybe then we’ll see an answer to Connie and Katie’s question. Hat tip to Judy Gaskell for the link to SLAW.