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Education, Learning and Libraries at a Tipping Point

New OCLC report shows how consumers are resetting expectations for higher education and libraries

DUBLIN, Ohio, 25 June 2014—A new report suggests that the cumulative weight of changing consumer habits, enabling technologies like MOOCs and mobile, and the high cost of postsecondary education are resetting expectations and bringing permanent changes to education and lifelong learning.

OCLC, the computer library service and research organization, today released At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries, the latest in a series of OCLC Membership Reports designed to explore emerging trends that impact libraries and librarianship. The report is available to download from the OCLC website.

"OCLC market research has tracked the perceptions of information consumers for more than a decade. Much has changed in the environment over that time. We have seen Google change search habits and Amazon change buying habits. We are now watching online learning services and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) change the landscape and expectations for education and learning," said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Vice President of Marketing, and principal contributor to OCLC Membership Reports.

At a Tipping Point looks at the views of online learners—their concerns about the cost of higher education, their experiences with online learning, and their expectations for more convenient, life-based education models in the future.

"The pressure is mounting on traditional models of learning. We see evidence in the research that we may be reaching a tipping point in how consumers think about and would like to manage their education," said Ms. De Rosa. "Students and parents are eager for more convenience and more options in how they learn—they favor convenience over structure, self-service over predefined options. Students of all ages are having success with online learning and, like most services that have moved onto the Web, consumers expect these new services to continue to improve in quality and increase in popularity."

Changes to education and online learning have implications and opportunities for libraries. "The same digital forces reshaping education will reshape library users’ expectations, on our campuses and across our communities," said Ms. De Rosa.

At a Tipping Point provides data on consumer attitudes and perceptions about online learning and MOOCs. The report also includes data about parents' and students' perceptions of campus life and their use of libraries—both at the library and online.

The report concludes with some thoughts for strategic consideration and action for libraries.

"As consumers' needs and preferences shift, libraries have new opportunities to deliver both services and convenience that will increase impact and grow relevance to online learners," said Ms. De Rosa.

See a brief video about At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries on the website at http://oc.lc/TippingPointVideo.

Visit the OCLC Membership Reports page for more information and to download the study.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 74,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat.org on the Web. For more information, visit the OCLC website.

OCLC, WorldCat, and WorldCat.org are trademarks and/or service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks and/or service marks of their respective owners.

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Watch Skip Prichard and Cathy De Rosa discuss At a Tipping Point