05 August 2016

Genealogy & Massive Online Open Course Format

Genealogy & Massive Online Open Course Format

What is a MOOC?  A MOOC is a massive online open course which “is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.”

I asked Rebecca Hyman, Educational Programs and Outreach Librarian, Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina, to share about her experience with RootsMOOC created in 2015.  Below is the “story” of one genealogy-related MOOC.

RootsMOOC: An Introduction to Genealogy and Family History Research

The State Library of North Carolina’s Government and Heritage Library (GHL) teamed up with Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library for RootsMOOC, a massive open online course on starting genealogical research in March 2015. The free course was originally presented on the Canvas network. This Institute of Museum and Library Services grant-funded project eventually enrolled more than 4,000 learners across the country and world enrolled including more than 500 of whom were from North Carolina, 75 international learners from 24 different countries. RootsMOOC provided participants easy, free access to high-quality genealogy instruction in a highly interactive and social learning environment.

Course materials are still available on the GHL’s website. You can still access all of the RootsMOOC content including instructional videos, handouts, reading lists and test their knowledge by taking self-check quizzes. The MOOC consists of four modules, 1) Getting Started and Staying Organized, 2) Digging into the US Census, 3) Using State and Local Resources, and 4) Using Digital Collections. The course was specifically designed to connect participants to the resources and expertise available in libraries and archives.

RootsMOOC creators want this course to benefit others who do any kind of genealogy instruction for their communities. Excepting those pieces of content created by third parties, every part of RootsMOOC was released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This means you are free to download, remix, reuse, and redistribute all of it.

To make these kinds of reuses easier, you can view a copy of the course and download the Canvas export package at this URL. That export package can be uploaded to any version of Canvas and tweaked in any way you want, as long as Z. Smith Reynolds Library and the Government and Heritage Library are given proper attribution.

Even though the ten-week course have been over for one year. Repositories and organizations are still using the materials for public programs and staff training. A Facebook group was the result of MOOC participants’ interactions with one another. The still active group has over 700 members and is moderated by NCGenWeb volunteers.

Besides providing beginning genealogy instruction RootsMOOC was a way to promote the value and expertise of librarians in a new and engaging learning environment and connect with users beyond the walls of the library, and benefit the entire genealogy community by creating reusable content.

Helpful Links:
Government and Heritage Library - http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ghl
Z. Smith Reynolds Library - https://zsr.wfu.edu/
Evaluation copy of RootsMOOC - http://bit.ly/rootsmooc-eval
RootsMOOC on GHL page - http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ghl/resources/rootsMOOC.html
RootsMOOC Facebook Group page https://www.facebook.com/groups/rootsmooc

You can also access a slideshow created regarding RootsMOOC.

Have you participated in a MOOC whether on a genealogy or other topic?

Are you aware of other family history oriented MOOCs?

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