Value of LIDA courses for library professionals

@nashman as a library professional, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts about the value of the Learning in a Digital Age courses as a potential support resource for the clients university librarians serve.

P2PU have a great initiative called learning circles where they collaborate with public libraries in providing face-to-face support for open online courses.

Could the learning circle model be implemented at our university libraries? It would be amazing if we could run international cohorts with learning circles at university libraries around the world.

In addition, there are a growing number of OERu partners that will recognise or issue formal academic credit for the LiDA courses including Thompson Rivers University (Canada) Thomas Edison State University (USA) and Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand). What is the likelihood of more universities around the world recognizing or assessing locally for formal credit towards degrees?

Keen to hear your thoughts, and of course ideas from any other library professionals engaged with Learning in a Digital Age.

I have worked in both public & higher education (polytechnic/TAFE, and university) libraries, and I would really like to see this type of initiative gather some steam. One of the tricky things is to get the support & time from management to establish the ground work, as it may take some time to get underway, and with pressure to consistently provide evidence of the ROI/value-added element.

I remember reading about some public libraries that created learning groups to support their community in participating in MOOCs - that is, they provided a physical space, and tech & learning support. This may be what you referred to as the P2PU learning circles?

This has given me some food for thought though, and I see you @mackiwg have reached out to folks on twitter in Australian universities … maybe it is time to see if we can get some research funding to explore, maybe that is the way to go about proving the value …


Staffing is always an issue, right up there with an invested college. If your college does not realize the import of the library to its infrastructure and student success, the conversation is a long ways off and down the road. Having that support, it is really just a matter of accreditation and in the case of my particular institution, the Higher Learning Commissions’ approval of such a program. Take a look at classes offered via - while not OER - it is a means of providing CEUs to a large group and yet the HLC will have nothing to do with recognizing it.

Really appreciate your input @megingle - thank you.

I reached out to to a few of the libraries in the OERu partner network in Australia to see if their is interest in the idea. The response is positive - but you are right, the inertia required for new initiatives can be challenging.

In the open source world - our approach is more incremental - more akin to the notion of rough consensus and running code.. The idea is to set up a small pilot and learn from the experience to inform the next iteration. This is in contrast to the master plan approach of detailing a large complex project.

I think your idea for pursuing research funding is a good one - but likely to be more successful if we have a few small pilots behind us to inform a larger and more successful research proposal?

Of course - at the OERu we are radically open and transparent - so this pilot would not be restricted to OERu partners. We also have a good relationship with our friends at P2PU who run learning circles. They’re also open source which means we have easy access to all the support resources for running a learning circle pilot.

On the technology side there amazing things that we could do. For instance, a university library could run their own branded instance of Mastodon for supporting the local community - but the federated nature of the technology means that the local instances can communicate with the federation of pilots.

The LiDA materials are all open source - so no money needed to get the course materials ready.

With a little creative thinking and a few dedicated professionals - this is an idea which may have wings.


Thanks @nashman - likewise I appreciate your time and contribution to this fledgling idea and providing a US perspective. On the credit front - we already have a US-based OERu partner who has approved the LiDA course for US-based credit. If assessed in the US - many colleges would recognize the course for transfer credit. So that’s part of the challenge resolved for US-based learners. Of course - OERu would welcome a growing number of US institutions to recognise transfer credit for OERu courses - but all in good time ;-).

I’ll reach out to the folk at P2PU learning circles and ask them for input on the idea.

Thanks again!

An interesting question @mackiwg.

I had a similar thought - creating a virtual/online learning circle for librarians to discuss how to implement/apply what is covered in these courses.

Creating a physical learning circle largely requires committed people being in one place (often at the same time) and that can be difficult to achieve in any situation that isn’t mandatory (for grades, performance etc).

I have found also that online learners don’t necessarily engage in the same way in a face-to-face environment (some require time to think, some prefer to dip in and out, some feel they can express themselves better in writing than verbally etc etc).

So there are issues of getting people to meet at a particular venue and be willing to share their learning with others at that time.

I do think there is potential to provide ‘support’ - setting up a blog, finding resources, citation styles and whatever else may be required, because this is what many University libraries do already for students. However, I’m not sure how many University libraries would undertake this for online learners who are not students of the University. The pitch would need a strong value proposition (or influential sponsor) for the library and/or University.

Maybe you could use the University Library as a venue, and someone else come in and do the ‘support’…

Thanks @sallyheroes

Really appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

Your comments with reference to online learners are well received - and I think the OERu open platform (aka the Internet :wink:) provides spaces for learners to interact and “support” each other online. Of course, the power of the open web is that learner communities can establish their own online groups in addition to the core OERu learner community, as in the case of the Saylor Academy learners who are studying in parallel with the OERu learners. (We have worked closely with Saylor to harvest forum posts from their site into the OERu course feed.)

The concept of a physical learning circle is the opportunity for learners who want to meet face-to-face can have a fixed time to do so - eg once a week for an hour or so for the 3-week duration of the LiDA open courses. This may help flatten the learning curve for students who are less familiar with the range of open technologies used in this environment. My presumption is that these would be students or patrons of the library concerned - so they would be serving their own clients, but with the added advantage of connecting with an international cohort and reusing OER without the need to spend any money on course development or hosting costs. For example, the LiDA101 course running as we speak has participants from 59 different countries - it would trivial to slot in learning circles from different locations.

Lots to think about and thanks for sharing your professional experience.

@mackiwg I think the key would be to get a small group of University staff/students from one location, who are either keen to register for a course or who have already registered, to pilot it and see what happens.

I can see how this might work for University library staff as part of their professional development activity - for example many library staff do online learning like 23 research data things, but it would only work for students if it was part of their study

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And that’s an excellent suggestion for establishing pilot cohorts. At least three OERu partners currently recognize LiDA for formal credit, so they would be a good starting point.

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Hi @megingle -

This is Grif from P2PU. @mackiwg told me that some folks were talking about learning circles, and that I should come by to see what was happening! You are right that learning circles are a community-group that is designed to work through an online course together. We provide free and open source tools that help you promote a group meeting, gather information from participants, prompt weekly discussions, etc. You can think of it sort of like a free version of MeetUp that is designed specifically for non-formal learning. In fact, a librarian in New South Wales just created a learning circle last week!

If you’re interested in approaching a local library or university about using their space for learning circles, we have some resources that might be able to help you make the pitch.

Hi Grif,

Thanks for popping by. I’m keen to have a conversation with a few partners to see if there is interest in running a few learning circles as a prototype later this year. We’ll definitely be in touch.