Scandinavia Public Library is one of the 21 public libraries hosting facilitated discussions regarding the “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” MOOC.
MOOCs are unique online learning experiences that allow people from around the globe and Wisconsin to participate in a non-credit learning experience. Participants sign up for free online and watch videos, participate in discussion forums, read articles and often take quizzes or complete educational activities. They can participate in a MOOC no matter where they are located, as long as they have an internet connection.
Participants in the Scandinavia area will engage in the online content independently and then attend a facilitated discussion of the course material at the library. The four week course consists of one to three hours of work per week. “The weekly discussions of course material at the library will add face-to-face interaction to the online course content. This is an exciting way to practice the Wisconsin Idea, in which UW-Madison improves lives throughout the state, not just in the traditional classroom,” declared Scandinavia Public Library director, Sue Vater Olsen. Participants may use public computers at the library to access the online portions of the MOOC.
The “Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region” coursework will be started on February 23. The discussion of that week's content will take place on Thursday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. at Scandinavia Public Library. Discussions for the following three weeks of coursework will be the next three Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. (March 5, March 12, and March 19).
WiLS is providing coordination between UW-Madison and the 21 public library partners for the MOOC. A nonprofit membership organization that facilitates collaborative projects to advance library service, primarily in the state of Wisconsin, WiLS is “excited to help facilitate this project that will explore the role of public libraries in distance education and the impact that their role may have on participation and learning,” said WiLS Director Stefanie Morrill.
Participants who take the MOOC will learn about the four seasons through short lectures and activities covering Great Lakes weather, observed changes in the climate and societal impacts of climate change.
Taught by Steve Ackerman, UW professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), and Margaret Mooney, CIMSS’ director of education and public outreach, the MOOC will also incorporate information from NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation initiative as well as findings from the recent National Climate Assessment and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI).
The MOOC is particularly unique in its focus on Wisconsin audiences, who will have the opportunity to learn more about how the mid-latitude location of the Great Lakes region and the influence of five massive and stunning freshwater lakes combine to create exhilarating weather systems each season.
The MOOC also provides an opportunity for Mooney and Ackerman to share their passion and work with a wider audience across Wisconsin. “The thought of not only sharing our research and the things we know about our broader community, but also hearing about their weather stories and learning from their experiences, I just find really exciting,” said Ackerman.
“The libraries are so looking forward to hosting discussions on this important topic and are appreciative of having the expertise of UW-Madison brought to their libraries," commented Morrill.
In 2015-16 UW-Madison is offering six MOOCs on topics ranging from Shakespeare’s dramas and the digital humanities, to Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, to the relationship between climate change policy and public health. Themes of human choices and challenges, sustainability and the environment will connect the six courses.
UW-Madison MOOC efforts are supported by Educational Innovation (EI), an initiative of the provost’s office that aims to transform teaching, learning and engagement to inspire students and empower communities.
To sign up for a UW-Madison MOOC or to learn more about MOOCs, visit www.moocs.wisc.edu.
For more information about WiLS, visit www.wils.org.
For more information about the facilitated discussions or how to get started, contact the Scandinavia Public Library at 715-467-4636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.