This Week in LIS - 17 August 2012

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Headline of the Week: Role of Student Motivation

It seems there has never been more opportunity for learning than today.

Networked hypertext contributions by Tim Berner-Lee (back in 1989) together with Andreessen’s Mosaic web browser (1993) brought the Internet to life enabling any and all to contribute and access information. The “web” makes available an ever growing sea of information so big you need a professional librarian to help you sort through it all to get to the “good stuff!”

When MIT announced its OpenCourseWare initiative on April 4, 2001, I had just completed a year of mid-career resident study. Like most aspiring learners, a consistent takeaway from any study is just how much more there is to learn! From the beginning, this has been a great source for getting access to materials and lists of materials that inform various subjects. The biology course on OCW which included video lectures was a fantastic “enabler” when an assignment into health care was taken. OCW opened the floodgates to additional online learning materials from many others.

Most recently MOOCs are in the news. MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. Like most “hot topics”, the term has become overloaded with many different meanings and nuances. Frequently it is positioned as a solution to education problems. They do seem useful. Recently a number of folks from LIS participated in an open course on Power Searching with Google.

With all of this information and all these learning resources available, why is there an ongoing debate around education availability, effectiveness, cost, etc.? One piece that seems not frequently discussed is the motivated learner.

I met Ray as a freshman at Luther. He came from a much bigger high school than I did and he started off in 3rd semester calculus because he’d had the first year in high school and successfully tested out. Further, he had taken advanced physics and frequently I went to him for help trying to take physics and beginning calculus as a freshman. Ray was also interested in lots of things and I marvelled at how much he knew about so many topics. One evening we were hiking from the residence hall over to Preus Library and Ray was talking about yet another very cool topic that I knew nothing about (I think it was about his airplane flying interest and his completion of ground school). At some point I stopped him and said “Ray, where did you learn all this stuff?!?” Ray looked me in the eye and exclaimed in his typical very direct manner, “I can read, Paul!”

That was it! From that point on, my friend Ray had given me both the responsibility and the permission to go conquer any topic I was motivated to study. It started me on a path to reading. That was the enabler for me to become a motivated learner. I sometimes thank Ray for “…teaching me to read at Luther College.” It ranks among the most profound lessons I took away from my undergraduate experience. In those days printed material was the available target but with the web and online learning materials today there’s little one can’t learn something about if one is motivated.

I think learner motivation is one of the topics that doesn’t get the attention it might be due in the whole education debate.

So the challenge for this week is to think about motivation; specifically about our students’ motivations. What things can we do that will unlock their natural intrinsic motivations to learn like Ray did for me by his example and challenge? Which activities could we support that would help our students discover and experience their “Ray moment?” What can be done so students move away from the “how little do I need to do to get a particular grade” end of the spectrum and more towards the “how much can I learn during this short time as an undergraduate” end of the spectrum. Can we contribute in a meaningful way to setting such a high expectation culture so our students mutually challenge one another to make all they can of their time here?

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LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

The following articles are sampled from those available on the LIS Blog:

Notes from LIS Council

LIS Council is the leadership team within LIS. Among the topics discussed the past two weeks were:

  • LIS Operational Agenda
    • Council members will be reporting on LIS operational views (metrics for processes and status of projects) regularly at LIS Council meetings. This week’s reports included the following:
    • Archives
      • Promoting ALI (the NHPRC grant-funded Archivist Leadership Institute) at SAA (Society of American Archivists) last week provided Luther visibility. There were also additional discussions on the topic of digital preservation and possible collaborations with colleges facing similar challenges (e.g. Grinnell, Carleton & St. Thomas). The idea of a possible grant to collaborate on digital preservation was also discussed.
    • Network & Systems
      • Adam shared graphs showing usage on campus for various Google applications. An interesting graph showed the number of Google (aka Norse) accounts we are enabled to create vs. the number we currently have, and they are nearing one another. There will be a reclaiming of accounts when those accounts created for potential admits that did not matriculate are returned. It may also be possible to increase the number we may create.
      • Write-in comments from the MISO survey expressed concerns with the wireless network (reliability and performance). The internet bandwidth was recently upgraded providing 380Mbps. We will be interested in input from the Help Desk on current concerns. Key to improvement is capturing specific instances so they can be diagnosed and improvements envisioned. Ideas are encouraged on how to do this.
    • User Services
      • Diane shared statistics from our Help Desk tracking software, including the number of work orders opened and closed within the past 31 days. We had more tickets closed (469) than opened (231) during this time period. We also reviewed the Technology Help Desk student worker training schedule for next week, discussed the details of move-in weekend, and reviewed projects in progress.
  • New Items
    • iTunesU
      • Questions were raised regarding Luther’s use of iTunes for courses, communication, etc. and whether Luther is well leveraging this resource. We believe Rob Larson is the control point for what content is placed in iTunesU. Instructions on how to upload media have been developed.
    • Sophos for Students & Faculty/Staff Personal Computers
      • For 2012/2013 LIS is continuing to provide Sophos anti-virus for student personal computers on campus. We will develop a plan to leverage open source AV or AV provided within the operating systems of student personal computers next year. For this year, starting this fall, Sophos is now packaged with a generic password instead of using students’ Norse Keys. LIS will reset the generic password annually in order to disable access for graduating seniors for which we do not have license.
    • LIS & Diversity Center
      • LIS and the Diversity Center will host a meet and greet with new international students in Hovde on 8/22 at 1:30 to begin building personal relationships between these new students and the librarians to further enable their academic success at Luther. On 8/21 at 1:30 in Hovde there will be a meeting with the student workers and mentors of the Diversity Center with members of the library staff to help them in their work to encourage the success of the students that leverage the Diversity Center.
    • Document Imaging
      • Paul met with Keith and they agreed to pick up the conversation about document imaging and workflow solutions to help alleviate a filing space and access problem in the Alumni and Development Offices. Keith encourages us to look solutions that will integrate with Datatel.

Upcoming LIS Training, Instruction, and Professional Development Opportunities

Click on the event below for specific information and for a link to register. More information on training and development events is available.

Course Format Date Location Enrollment
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 1 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Open
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 1 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Main 114 Open
Updates for Academic Advisors Faculty Development Aug 20 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Nobel Open
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 2 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 21 2012 – 9:00am 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Open
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 2 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 21 2012 – 9:00am 12:00pm Main 114 Open
Writing in the Disciplines Faculty Development Aug 22 2012 – 1:00pm 4:00pm Main 112 Open

This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Paul Mattson, Executive Director of LIS at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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