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Library building community around online study

Created on Fri, 02/09/2016 - 00:00 by Sammi Morgan 

Open2Study is for everybody - and you don't have to study alone! We spoke to Helen McSkimming, library officer at the City of Onkaparinga's Willunga Library, about the passionate photographers that teamed up to complete our Art of Photography course. Helen explains how Open2Study is the perfect vehicle for public libraries to deliver adult learning programs - and treats us to some stunning student work showcasing the beautiful McLaren Vale wine region.

'Busy Bee' by Lloyd
'Busy Bee' by Lloyd

What gave you the idea to trial Open2Study as a Group Collaboration Project within your library?

My interest in providing adult learning opportunities in public libraries was fostered whilst undertaking my Masters in Library and Information Studies program. More recently I began looking at MOOCs, and I considered that they may provide a perfect vehicle through which public libraries could deliver adult learning programs.

'Damselfly' by Aidan
'Damselfly' by Aidan

Why did you choose the Open2study MOOC?

I thought that a MOOC on photography may have wide appeal in my community and I set about finding an appropriate course. I chose 'The Art of Photography' from Open2Study. The Open2Study platform provided many advantages. It was helpful that it was an Australian site and that I could easily communicate with the online facilitators. The website had one of the best layouts, clearly showing the structure of each course in terms of hours required, number of tutorial videos and number of assessments. A bonus was that each participant who completed the course would be able to download a certificate at no extra cost. It was convenient for me that Open2Study courses are repeated on a regular schedule so that I could easily complete the course myself before facilitating it for the participants.

'Herons Awake' by Tineke
'Herons Awake' by Tineke

What did you want to achieve?

I was looking for an interesting course which would have wide appeal, but I wanted to test the model of using MOOCs to deliver adult learning programs in public libraries. I also wanted to test whether this type of course would fit into a two hour weekly time slot which could be facilitated at a comfortable pace for the participants.

'Kangaroo Watch' by Chris
'Kargaroo Watch' by Chris

How many people were involved?

A total of 12 people attended at least one of the sessions. Nine participants completed the course and received a Certificate of Achievement from Open2Study. The majority of participants were in the over-50s age group.

'Lagoon at Victor' by Pauline
'Lagoon at Victor' by Pauline

How did you make Open2Study fit into your plans?

The Open2Study platform provided an excellent framework for the course, the lectures were of a very high quality, and the assessments were valuable in reinforcing the learning. During each 2-hour session, we watched the 10 videos on a big screen together, and then each participant completed the pop quizzes and the assessments individually on their own laptop. Although our schedule was quite tight, we found time to have some afternoon tea and lots of chat as well. Participants discussed the material from the course, and also shared their photography knowledge and experience. I created a Flickr page for our group to which the participants could upload and comment on each other's photos.

'Miners Belts' by Kym
'Miners Belts' by Kym

Did you achieve what you set out to?

Yes. At the completion of the course, I asked each participant to complete a feedback form. One of the questions I asked participants was to rate their experience in the course on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). Of the 8 respondents, all scored 7 or above, with 3 recording a score of 10!

'Pelicans at Goolwa' by Leonie
'Pelicans at Goolwa' by Leonie

What did the students say was the best thing about participating in this course?

  • Learning new skills and networking with other keen photographers
  • Meeting others and interacting with them in learning
  • Talking to others in the same position
  • The enthusiasm of the lecturer and meeting other interested photographers
  • The lecturer was easy to listen to, explained well. I felt engaged, I wanted to learn more
  • Sharing ideas, learning new things
'Wash Day View' by Daphne
'Wash Day View' by Daphne

Do you see this as an opportunity to be run on a grander scale?

Definitely, I think the success of the pilot has demonstrated that facilitating a MOOC in a public library provides an ideal model for delivering adult learning opportunities for our customers.

Do you plan to continue or trial a new course?

I would like to trial different topics using this model. I am now looking for other courses but I am attracted to the Open2Study platform because of its very clear structure and guidelines.
Following this course, I gave a presentation to my library management team. They were very enthusiastic about the project and have made a commitment to run a pilot MOOC in each of the 6 branches in our library service in 2017.

Any hints or tips for anyone else who would like to run an Open2Study Course in a group setting?

I found fantastic support from the P2PU team in the USA especially via the 'P2PU Learning Circles Facilitator Handbook'. If you are interested, you can find the handbook at the Peer 2 Peer University's website.


Enrolments for the next round of The Art of Photography are now open, along with over 40 other Open2Study courses.


Open2Study would like to thank Helen McSkimming, the City of Onkaparinga's Willunga Libraries and the students that participated in this course (Lloyd, Elaine, Pauline, Daphne, Tineke, Vicki, Chris, Leonie, John, Michelle, Kym and Aidan) for participating and allowing us to share this. If you are interested in running group projects and need to contact Open2study please use the orange feedback button on www.open2study.com.


Lovely photography that is so educating. All explains the importance of conserving our wild life;forests and every natural resource we have before the become extinct.

photography is an amazing course that create memory of time past to represent the future. #kingsmediaentertainment#jacobson

It's in reality a nice and useful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful information with us.
Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for Sharing

Great photos. I've just finished 'The Art of Photography Course' and agree that it's an interesting and well put together and preseented course.

Wow! beautiful pictures that connects with nature as well. Many thanks for sharing with us as we are learning more from you about your interest in adult education and photography

Wow! beautiful pictures that connects with nature as well. Many thanks for sharing with us as we are learning more from you about your interest in adult education and photography

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