Interview with Mimi O’Malley

Mimi O’Malley oversees development and delivery of professional development courses and workshops through The Learning House, focusing on higher education faculty and administrators. She has also presented workshops on online learning topics like faculty assessment, ADA, copyright, and curriculum trends. Next month she will be teaching a course for Library Juice Academy, called Embedded Librarianship in Online Courses. Mimi agreed to be interviewed here, to give people more of an idea of what her course will cover, and a bit about her background as an instructor.

Mimi, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I’d like to start by asking you to tell us a bit about your background and how you found your way to the position of teaching this course and ones like it?

I spent 2 years working in the training department of an online learning company. My main task is to teach faculty best practices for teaching fully online courses, engaging students while teaching online, and online course design. I actually wrote the content I had to teach, so I saw whether or not the content I wrote and course navigation was useful for students (in my case, my students were faculty). I found my way to Library Juice Academy through the Special Libraries Association. I was helping the solo division feature organizations useful for their solo librarians and Library Juice courses were one professional development resource recommended.

Sounds like you have a good background for teaching this course. Why don’t you give an outline of it?

This class will start with simple ways librarians may embed their skills remotely starting with the LMS especially through the use of portal tabs, blocks, eReserves, knowledge bases, and student/faculty orientations. We’ll then move on to discussing how to bring the traditional face-to-face BI session (which librarians know so well) into the online class through the use of team teaching, guest lecturing, and conducting synchronous workshops. We’ll explore in the 3rd week how the librarian can become more influential in online course design and development. The session concludes with an examination of the ways librarians can evaluate whether or not their virtual efforts are impacting student access to library resources as well as possible learning outcomes.

Since you focus on online learning in higher education and work with faculty who are involved in that, you are in a position to be in tune with what is going on. I wonder if you could tell us what some of the new trends are in online education that librarians need to know about in planning to be more “embedded online.”

I would recommend embedded librarians become acquainted with their institution’s copyright policies for online courses. This includes understanding if your school applies fair use for online course design (some do and some do not), verify if you school adheres to TEACH Act, and general policy regarding who is responsible for seeking permissions/license (faculty or library)? MOOCs are a hot topic, but it doesn’t seem to have a strong business model for many schools to invest in development. Keep accessibility in mind…librarians are advocates for making sure individuals have access to information and this includes individuals with disabilities.

Sounds like good advice. I’d like to switch gears for a final question: If you could teach any other classes for Library Juice Academy, what do you think they’d be?

Great question. I think taking this workshop’s 3rd module, “Identify librarian roles during the design and development of online courses,” and developing a four week workshop might work well. I could see focusing on topics such as publishing digital content, open education resources, seeking permission, and learning tools interoperability. Those could be a few topics to delve into.

Sounds great. Thanks for being willing to do this interview.

Thanks for the opportunity to promote this workshop. I think librarians stand to gain more leverage when they can see opportunities which exist in distance learning. The librarian skill set is very compatible with this field since they recognize varied learners require varied learning experiences, remain vigilant on technology changes, and understand the juxtaposition between proprietary and open source resources.

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