Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

Have you ever had an interest in taking a course at university, but didn’t want to pay the price required to enroll? Not only is there the cost of tuition, there’s the additional cost of the application fee, the required textbook and additional student fees. Post-secondary education offers a chance to improve your knowledge in a particular subject or work-related area, but it comes with a very high price tag. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to try the course without the financial cost, to see if you liked it before embarking on the path to a post-secondary education? You can.

West Vancouver Memorial Library will be hosting an information session, to provide insight into a way that you can take university courses, through accredited and recognized universities, for minimal, or no, cost. MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses, are a recent development in distance education that allows access to online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web[1]. The courses are typically non-credit, but there are often options for receiving recognition for having taken them, and opportunities for receiving credit (which does come with a cost)[2].


MOOC courses have many things in common: video based lectures, interactivity through online quizzes, the ability to participate in online discussions, and frequent feedback so you can monitor your own progress. To find out if you’re interested in participating, it’s as simple as looking through the West Vancouver Memorial Library’s list of MOOC institutions and going from there. The library offers these tips to help you decide if a MOOC is right for you:

  • Watch the instructor’s introductory video
  • Check the course outline for prerequisites and the level at which the course will be taught
  • Look at the instructor’s college webpage and search the web for course reviews[3].

If you’re interested in finding out more, head to the West Vancouver Memorial Library on Tuesday, September 23, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Give yourself the gift of learning without the financial strings attached.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] West Vancouver Memorial Library
[3] West Vancouver Memorial Library

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Learning Mango Language Style

If you’re looking for that extra help in learning a new language, look no further. Your BC Public Libraries offer a solution that makes it easy to learn when convenient for you. Search for Mango Languages on your Library webpage and follow these easy steps to getting started:

Step 1: Create your Mango Languages account. You will need your Library Card to access this service, and you will require an email and be asked to create a password.


Step 2: Pick your language. I found this hard with so many choices available. In the end, I closed my eyes and pointed to the screen. I landed on French. I jest; I actually want to learn French to support my daughter in her French Immersion Education and my French skills are limited to say the least. I imagine us, 10 years from now, going on a trip to France together and being able to converse our way around with ease. It’s a long term goal, but one to work towards.


Step 3: Load the program. It doesn’t take too long. Remember the days of dial-up-internet and rejoice that technology has come so far.


Step 4: Start your program by clicking on the appropriate starting point. I’m starting with the basics because my French is so limited. Some of this will be review, but most of it will be new to me.


I have made it through Lesson 1. My daughter likes to laugh at the progress I’ve made so far and corrects me often, but it has been a fun experience for the both of us. Her ability to teach me only reinforces her learning so far and gives her the added confidence of being smarter than her mother. Nothing wrong with that….for now.

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School alternatives

For me, the start of the school year is like a new beginning. Summer draws to a close, ending the frenzy of activities that are brought forth by warm days and late sunsets. School returns as does routine and normalcy. The calm of the season slows me down enough to set new goals; look for ways to expand myself in some way. Except this year.

The teachers’ strike has prolonged this transition. My normalcy is not returning. I am scrambling: instead of setting new goals, I am researching what I can do with my children to keep them on track in their learning and keep their minds busy. I am fortunate enough to have daycare lined up for them, but I worry about their minds not being stretched to new heights.

The BC Public Libraries are my first point of contact. In their everyday normal operations are set up to expand the minds of its users. If my children gain delight from story-time at the library, I am happy. If my children get lost in books, even better. If they play on the computer, I know the programs are friendly for them and will teach them something. If I find a program for them to participate in, I know their minds will benefit. The libraries have not changed because of the teachers’ strike. They just continue being awesome by doing what they do.

I also want to review the BC Teaching Curriculum to see what the learning outcomes are. Somehow, I am going to keep my children up to speed with their learning. This is a bit more difficult as I am limited with the amount of time I have to do this. I do not have the hours per day that my children would normally have to learn a curriculum set forth, but every bit of effort will pay off.

Finally, I look around at the various clubs and organizations to see what types of day camps are available. There are a multitude of services being offered through activity and community centres: gymnastics, taekwando, canoeing, etc., that are at a discount rate to give these kids a chance at socializing with their peers while learning a new skill.

Somehow or another, this strike will end. The kids will be back in school expanding their minds. I will go back to setting my own goals and expanding myself in some way. In the meantime, I have to work at creating an interim routine to bridge the gap.






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Voices of the Invisible

I don’t’ like it here, she says
I don’t speak the language.

But there are many places you could go, I said,
To make friends with others like you.

Please don’t laugh at me,
I don’t even know how to take the bus.
I can’t read the names of the stops,
And I don’t know when to pull the bell.

When I go somewhere,
I have to count the number of stops.
But buses here are strange,
They don’t stop at every stop.
When I miscount,
I get off at the wrong place,
And get lost.

And oh, how I dread the long winters here,
When it rains day in and day out.
I stay home,
Staring out the window,
Listening to raindrops beating on the roof,
And talking to raccoons.
Yeah, I learned to talk to myself.
People ask me, “How come you keep talking to yourself?”
“Well, l learned to do this in Canada,
Because this is the only thing I can do.”

I don’t like it here,
I wish I could run away.
I am too old to learn the language,
People laugh at me when I try,
Now I am a prisoner of my mother tongue.

What am I supposed to do,
An old woman like me?
Scared, ashamed, desperate,
More than ever in my life.
What shall I do? What could I do?
I can’t go back,
And yet I don’t belong here.
Tell me please,
Is there a place in between?

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Wouldn’t it be nice to take a Career for a Test Drive?

What do you want to do? For many, it’s a struggle to answer.  The Fraser Valley Regional Library has added Career Cruising to their list of available services to help with this question. Career Cruising is a web-based career exploration and planning tool to explore career and educational options.

What you’ll need to begin:

Your Library Card and your PIN (Personal Identification Number)
Your email address

What you’ll do here:

Explore your interests

Explore intersts

Learning style inventories are available for you. Discover how you learn and retain information and find tips on how to improve your study habits to suit your learning style.

Learn about careers

Search by alphabetical index, by school subject, by focus areas or by clusters of occupations. You’ll get the earnings range (how much money can be made), the level of education required, personal attributes of the workers, and an understanding of what the job looks like on a day to day basis.

Explore educational options

Search Colleges and Universities, or programs in BC and Canada. Find out what the admission requirements, program requirements and tuition costs are before you embark on this career option.

Find jobs

Enter the location you would like to find a job, or the type of job you wish to find.

What you should keep in mind while you’re exploring this website:

  1. Think about where you’d like to be in 5 years. You may not end up here, but it’s a starting point and gives you a direction to move towards.
  2. Write a personal manifesto, or mission statement. If you Google this term, you will see many examples of manifestos; such as this Holstee Manifesto:The-Holstee-Manifesto
  3. Volunteer in a position that interests you and allows you to gain the skills required. There are not only skills to be learned, but connections to be made. It also gives you a chance to share your life.
  4. Be curious. Try new things.
  5. Remember; not everyone knows what they want to do. Keep an open mind and see where it takes you.
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3 Easy Steps to eBooks for Kids

You know how sometimes you avoid doing things because you think they’re going to be hard? I’ve been doing that with the eBook section of my local library. I finally decided to tackle my procrastination. I set aside some time to set my kids up with some good, online content. I wish I had done this sooner, because it was too easy. My avoidance has cost me time my children could have been interacting with books on their own.

There are 3 easy steps to the process of getting a book to your computer, tablet or phone.

1. Go to your local library’s e-content catelogue and choose the appropriate option available (I chose the first one, BOOKflix).

(I did explorStep 1e the options, but started with BOOKflix. It seemed like the best option for my children at the age they’re at.)

I was asked for my Library Card # and my PIN (Personal Identification Number) to log in.




2. Choose your category for the type of book you would like to watch/read.

Step 2I chose ‘Adventure’ as both my children are adventurous!  We browsed through the various book titles and found ‘Scaredy Squirrel’. They’ve not read this book yet and we do love new stories.




3. ‘Watch the story’ or ‘Read the book’

Step3There are two options to choose from:

Watch the Story!: Scaredy Squirrel can be read to you or your children. The words spoken are highlighted which is great for children learning to read along.

Read the Book!: Turn the ‘Read Along’ on and watch the words highlighted as they are read. When you are ready, you can turn the page and continue reading.

We did both.

What we enjoyed was the pairing of the fictional book with the non-fiction. It was great to read a new story, online. It was also great for my children to learn about ‘real’ squirrels. I loved how each word was highlighted as it was read; an opportunity to learn words by sight. We will be spending more time seeing what our options are now that I realize just how easy this is!

Happy reading folks!


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The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear

The following poem is written by Library Champion May Wang. It took my breath away.

The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear
–Does he have hearing problems?
The teacher asks my mom.
–He doesn’t answer my questions,
And he doesn’t respond to other kids.

Yes, I hear you.
And it HURTS.

When Mom said we were moving to a new home,
In the most beautiful place in the world,
She was not lying.

Here trees and grass are forever green,
And there are flowers all year round.
Little bunnies peep at you from under the bushes,
Chubby squirrels nibble happily at your food.
Baby ducks waddle behind the big ones
Huge flocks of snow geese make spectacular sights

But all these put together,
Still don’t make happy homes,
Not even with the Spiderman costume on Halloween,
Not even with all the gifts under the Christmas tree,
Not even with everyday turning into no-homework day,
Not even with pinky clouds looking like cotton candies.

Not when mom’s eyes begin to cloud up with doubts,
Not when daddy is only a talking face on the screen.
And not when I don’t have a clue how to behave at school.

When do I stand?
When do I sit?
When do I talk?
When do I laugh?
When am I getting too close to someone else?
I am scared of this so called “personal space”.

Of course I hear you,
I just don’t understand.
I don’t even speak the language.
So I build a wall of silence for self-defense.

And when you ask my mom that question,
I hear you,

And it hurts

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