This Week in LIS - 31 August 2012

Weekly news and updates from Luther College Information Technology Services. To receive email updates, please sign up here.

Headline of the Week: Profile of Undergraduate Students

A very interesting book showed up this week. It is the third of an inadvertent trilogy to which Arthur Levine has contributed that discusses research on the nature of today’s college students. It is called Generation on a Tightrope – A Portrait of Today’s College Students.

An interesting aside is that it is available only electronically (Kindle) until sometime in September when it is expected to be available also as a paper book. From discovery to reading the first page took five minutes. Four of those were spent agonizing over whether I wanted to spend the $20. I very seldom am successful resisting the immediate gratification associated with a compelling Kindle title. Amazon “one click” plus Kindle and Internet is a fiscally dangerous combination for me. It is good to know counseling is close at hand if this electronic book buying behavior becomes an addiction.

Levine wrote the first book in 1980. He studied and reported on higher education students comparing students of the Carter era with the students of the late ‘60’s. A second book came out in 1998 as a result of dramatic changes in the answers to the same questions from the first book that he continued to ask. Some further research on the impact of social and political events on higher education students in the post 9/11 timeframe revealed that the anticipating impactful events were overshadowed by the impacts on students by the World Wide Web. That led to a set of studies that, in turn, yielded this third book.

The book suggests that several of the characteristics of the students across these time periods remain consistent, varying modestly by degree. However there were some big differences with this first generation of digital natives. These students have a number of important needs and the author feels like there are big gaps in the skills he anticipates they need to meet their expectations for their lives. There is much to do and I found myself imagining services and offerings that Luther and LIS in particular might be able to offer to work towards filling those gaps.

In the chapter dedicated to prescription the authors suggest three overarching skillsets that will be necessary for these students to be successful during the anticipated time of profound change. The first is critical thinking. The second is creativity and the third is the ability and discipline to continually learn. I found this encouraging. These are topics in Luther’s wheelhouse.

The book goes on to talk about the need to complement broad based learning with skills. These skills fill gaps and help students with their next post graduation step and as practice for what is likely to become an ongoing cycle of need to re-tool on skills as they move from career to career across their working lives. I found this also encouraging. I think LIS can play an important role providing leadership and resources for skills development to complement the liberal arts focus of the broader college.

I am interested in hosting a conversation around the information and issues raised in this book. If you would like to be a part of this please contact me.

Suggested Reading:

Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean, Generation on a Tightrope – A Portrait of Today’s College Student, 3rd ed. John Wiley and Sons, 2012

[email protected]

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
      • The Archives are now using RefStats as a tool to capture information about engagements with clients. A set of graphics was shared that showed Archives usage over the summer period. Given increased Internet visibility to the collection, additional content from both the Journey to America and Postville projects and the visibility of Luther Archives in general (a side effect of receiving the Archives Leadership Institute grant) we anticipate traffic and usage of the collection will increase. We are interested in seeing the graphics include comparisons to like points in the academic year and across recent history to see if our expectation is met and to plan for and accommodate the increased usage.
    • Network & Systems
      • Adam shared a number of slides to help us appreciate the distribution of personal devices coming onto campus. He shared the number of devices registered by students over the move in weekend. The peak day was Sunday when well over 400 devices registered. On Saturday and Monday, the days bracketing the peak, on the order of 300 more were registered. It is clear that the students are dependent on their devices and the network based on the urgency with which they work to get their computers, smartphones, etc. onto the Internet. Macs represent over half of the (non-lab, non-staff) personal computers on campus. As of Wednesday we had 2600 devices on our wireless network. With the recent Internet bandwidth investment Luther’s total Internet connection speed has been increased from 250Mbps to 380Mbps. To provide redundancy and fault tolerance in our Internet connection, we purchase service from 3 different ISP’s.
    • User Services
      • Diane shared the number of work orders opened (186) and closed (554) within the past 31 days along with the top categories. This is in addition to the 400+ students who were assisted during move-in weekend as they registered their computers on the campus network. We also viewed the video (link available to Luther and Alumni only) Matt Hughes created that shows what the Technology Help Desk and Library are like on Move-In Weekend; two and a half days compressed into four minutes. We then briefly discussed current projects in progress.
  • New Items
    • Beazley and NoDatabreach Current Policyholder Portal Access
      • As a current Beazley Cyber Security insurance policyholder, we are qualified to access the data breach loss prevention services provided by ePlace Solutions. We began discussion of the site and its content and decided to fold decision regarding usage of this resource into our security objective for the current year. We also discussed the status of the IT Security Audit / Penetration Testing and it was decided that Adam will reconvene the team.
    • Notes from Faculty Meeting
      • Paul and Andi shared points of interest from the faculty meeting with the LIS team.
  • Returning Items
    • LIS General
      • We discussed agenda candidate topics for consideration for the upcoming LIS General.
    • LISAAC
      • We discussed topics for consideration for the upcoming LIS Academic Advisory Council meeting. The team is encouraged to bring forward items to Paul for consideration. We will include updates LIS has made since LISAAC met in April.

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
New Faculty Katie Training Redux Workshop Sep 4 2012 – 2:30pm 4:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
ZOTERO Workshop Workshop Sep 5 2012 – 7:00pm 8:00pm Open
ZOTERO Workshop Workshop Oct 3 2012 – 7:00pm 8:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
Creating a Faculty Website Using Reason Workshop Oct 15 2012 – 2:00pm 4:00pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
ZOTERO Workshop Workshop Nov 7 2012 – 7:00pm 8:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
ZOTERO Workshop Workshop Dec 5 2012 – 7:00pm 8:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open

Training and instruction is provided to the Luther Community through Faculty Development Sessions, Library Instruction Sessions, Product Demonstrations, Skills Training, Workshops, 1-on-1 Sessions, and Online Materials. To schedule a session, contact the LIS Technology Help Desk at x1000 or enter your request online at

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

Creative Commons License

Content is made available under Creative Commons license.