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No matter what course you major in at university, there is one skill you need in every one of them to succeed, i.e. how to quickly and efficiently find the right information and how to save and process it. In order to give students insights in these crucial information gathering skills, the university library at VUB has created a MOOC. This ‘massive open online course’ has been available both in Dutch and English since September 12th on the dedicated Canvas Network. The courses are taught by the library’s very own Steven Laporte and Lieselot Verryckt, with further assistance from their colleagues Johanna Decalf (illustrations) and Bram De Meutter (music). Student Suzanna Monard was responsible for the English translation. Let’s see what it all means.
‘It is not the first MOOC that VUB has made available online’, Lieselot Verryckt explains. ‘Earlier there were other VUB MOOCs on the Canvas Network, among others by professor Chang Zhu of the Educational Sciences. But the start of the academic year is a perfect time for us to launch. We want to get as many new students on board from the onset as we can. Knowing how to quickly and efficiently gather and process information is a basic skill at university. Students who will go through our MOOC at the beginning of the year, will be better prepared for assignments further down the line.’
The university library will spare no effort in its quest to inform every student of the existence of the MOOC. They will e.g. be present at the Kick off the Campus events in Jette and Etterbeek to enthuse students. Verryckt feels efforts like that are more than needed. ‘Information skills are a set of abilities that come in handy in every course, often embedded in research methods and general methodology classes. We know for a fact that there is a need for extra help on this topic, and this MOOC want to fill that void.’
There is a Dutch (Basiscursus informatievaardigheden) and an English version (Improve your research skills) of the MOOC. As is customary with this format, both classes are free to watch on the Canvas Network to anyone who is interested. Even on your smartphone, through the Canvas App. The only thing you need, is an easy to create log in. For those who prefer to follow the course in real life: library staff members will still provide information sessions in regular classes.