This Week in LIS - 7 December 2012

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

Headline of the Week: Business Model for MOOCs

Udacity and Coursera are startup firms that provide means/services to deliver MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. Udacity works with individual professors and Coursera works with colleges and universities.

In an interesting article this week Coursera has announced it will provide an employment “matching” service for a fee. The service will aim to connect students who have demonstrated skills through completion of Coursera MOOC courses and employers. It will work like a “head-hunter” service in that employers will pay. Udacity has had something similar.

A couple of interesting points come to mind. The first is that these firms are choosing this matchmaking service as a way to capture value from the services they offer. Their courses are free and available to all comers; there is no tuition. This is fundamentally different from other for-profit firms in the higher education business. It also directly connects their revenue to outcomes. They get paid when skilled students get employed. At Luther we are very proud of the successes our students have making their “next step” whether it be a job in their field, admission to graduate school or landing a role in a service organization. Prospectives and their parents care greatly about this as well.

The second interesting point is that to the degree this becomes an important part of their revenue portfolio one might imagine their focus on course offerings be centered on skills. Within LIS there has been much discussion about the importance prospectives and their parents put on the confidence that their students, when they graduate, be successful on that “next step” if they choose to attend Luther College. We have talked at length about how we in LIS can contribute to their success. This sensitivity has been heightened by economic uncertainties and global competition.

A liberal arts education provides important and essential capabilities that are durable through time. Without any wavering on that point there is also recognition that one must have specific skills for employers or graduate schools or for service organizations that are also ready to be leveraged even if only to differentiate oneself from other candidates. Employers have less interest in providing training if they don’t need to; they are experiencing financial pressures as well. Competitors like Udacity and Coursera and others within higher education will naturally work to focus the higher education conversation on skills and jobs.

Complementing our liberal arts program with services that enable skill development is something I see as an important opportunity for us. We can discover and organize cyber learning resources (perhaps even including MOOC resources), help leverage them, collaborate with faculty to enable them to get more value out of classroom time, and organize communities of interest and learning around topics that matter to our students’ success both in the classroom and on their “next step”.

Suggested Reading/Viewing:

Providers of Free MOOC’s Now Charge Employers for Access to Student Data

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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 this past week 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:
    • Network & Systems
      • Virus scanning has been enabled within our new firewalls. This will provide another layer of virus detection.
      • A special (logical) wireless network has been configured in Towers. It is visible through a different SSID – LCWireless5G. This network is exclusively for 5Ghz devices. We want to encourage computers and other devices capable of connecting to this SSID to do so. The motivation is to improve wireless performance in Towers by reducing contention on the 2.4Ghz channels.
    • User Services
      • Planning is underway for the remodelling of the Main 113 classroom. The proposed schedule is next summer.
      • LIS has received and is looking into a suggestion for a laptop and phone charging station in the library.
      • A Windows 7 64 bit image is ready for testing within LIS.
      • LIS is planning to support streaming for 2013 commencement. We are investigating the equipment we will need to provide this support.
      • A number of training sessions on Norse Docs and Katie were held in support of our migration to a new version of Katie. Additionally training sessions were delivered on tools for accessing Luther applications and resources remotely (from off campus).
      • The LIS Auction is resuming.
  • New Items
    • Qualtrics for the Campus?
      • Qualtrics is a web based survey tool in which there is interest from several departments on campus. We are researching funding and support in anticipation of subscribing to this tool.
    • Filemaker Pro for Education
      • Licenses of Filemaker Pro have been purchased for 5 named individuals in the Education Department.
    • Audit Presentation to Regents
      • Diane T. is requesting a presentation by LIS to the Regent’s audit committee in April. She’s requesting 15 min. including an update on penetration testing results and a user friendly version of what we are doing to safeguard data.
    • Consolidation of Software Maintenance Lines
      • We have been asked to identify all software annual maintenance costs across the campus and consolidate them into one listing.
    • IT Risk/Governance Committee
      • We discussed possible candidates to include on a campus-wide IT Risk/Goverance Committee.
    • ILLiad Update
      • The latest update to the ILLiad server software will require MSSQL 2005 or higher and Windows Server 2003 or higher. Atlas has notified us that the current version (8.2) will not be supported past July 2013.
    • Firewall Antivirus Scanning
      • Adam is planning to turn on AV scanning of web and ftp traffic on the firewall during the maintenance window tonight (12/5/12).
  • Returning Items
    • OCLC
      • The contract was signed with OCLC last week and the implementation kick-off meeting is scheduled for Monday morning.
    • Multimedia
      • The quantitative data collection in regard to multimedia use on campus continues with additional conversations held this past week and this coming week.
    • Katie
      • Nine New Katie Version workshops were held over the past few weeks and were well attended. Seven Norse Docs workshops were held recently as well. Additional workshops on Katie and Norse Docs will be held in January.
    • LIS Website Migration to Reason
      • The LIS Website will be moving to Reason in January. This project is led by Ryan and Steve and will be completed with the assistance of others in LIS and student workers from Publications.
    • Security
      • A separate meeting will be held to discuss leadership for security within LIS.
    • Datatel SQL
      • The team is making good progress creating Business Objects abstractions, called Universes, to enable report writing. The team has worked directly with the alumni and development office with the help of a consultant on recent work. The team is moving to implement universes for other departments.
    • Document Imaging
      • We discussed the renewed interest in and support for the Document Imaging project.
    • Budgets
      • We briefly reviewed the operational budget relief requests that have been submitted for LIS.
    • Program Support Coordinator
      • Telephone interviews are in progress for the Program Support Coordinator search.

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
Google (Norse) Docs Workshop Jan 16 2013 – 9:00am 9:30am Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Google (Norse) Docs Workshop Jan 17 2013 – 2:00pm 2:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Google (Norse) Docs Workshop Jan 29 2013 – 11:00am 11:30am Olin 301 – Round Table Room Open
Google (Norse) Docs Workshop Jan 31 2013 – 1:00pm 1:30pm Olin 301 – Round Table Room 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.

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