This Week in LIS - 22 February 2013

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Headline of the Week: University of Minnesota to Offer MOOCs

The MOOC phenomena feels like the rush for Internet eyeballs back in the late 90’s. I just hope it will not lead to million dollar sock puppet ads during next year’s Super Bowl.

In Thursday morning’s Star Tribune, front page news was that the University of Minnesota has signed on, along with another batch of 29 universities bringing the total to 61, to work with Coursera to deliver 5 MOOCs. It seems all the cool kids are doing it. As Martin Luther frequently asked, “What does this mean for us?”

There is much discussion about completion rates and credits and degrees. Some universities give credit to the students enrolled in the university offering the MOOCs. There are higher education institutions willing to offer competency exams and credit for some MOOCs. Last week we saw that the University of Wisconsin will offer a set of bachelor’s degrees based on competency testing that require no classroom time. It looks like the pieces are coming into place and I don’t expect it will be long before there is a bachelor’s degree awarded to a student who learned via MOOCs and other online and free resources and whose degree costs will be just for competency exams, credit transfer fees and other service fees.

I was thinking about whether I would want to hire that person. How would I think about their credential as compared to a candidate with the same degree from the same college but earned the traditional way? I think they would have a great shot. Such a person would have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to learn the next thing and that is valuable in a world where technology is changing ever quicker and the boundary between people and the machines they use to create value is constantly moving. It would take tremendous discipline and “grit” to earn a degree via MOOCs. It would not be sufficient but I would give the person a shot.

The M in MOOCs is for massive referring to the fact that 10’s and 100’s of thousands of students enroll in some of these courses. So far only a percent or two complete the courses. That’s not to say others didn’t learn. We have LIS members taking MOOCs now and what will matter to me is not whether they get a completion certificate but rather what it enables them to do going forward.

How many 18-22 year olds will be interested, willing and able to pull off a MOOC based degree? I think the ones that could might also be some of the ones that set the high-bar in our classrooms. It would be unfortunate to all if they were to find sufficiency on this new path. It is important to continue to evaluate, enhance and communicate the value of the integrated offering.

I do think that we will see students that will experiment with MOOCs and some will look for credit not unlike with PSEO and AP courses. I would be encouraged by a student with enough “grit” to have mastered a topic offered via MOOC with mastery sufficient to stand up to a competency test. I keep looking for ways to enhance the culture of “learn all you can” and to minimize the culture of “how little do I have to do to get by”. Can encouraging and celebrating learning via MOOCs be a step in the right direction?

I would hope that our graduates would be fully capable of leveraging such resources to continue essential life long learning after they graduate. Is there something additional along this line of thinking we should be teaching? Might LIS be a collaborator or provider? Perhaps some will leverage these offerings in conjunction with their time at Luther to access learning experiences of particular personal interest or enablement or prerequisites for other opportunities such as upper level courses or research.

We have examples of our professors getting some leverage from using resources from online offerings. This too seems like a good idea. If this enables an improvement in effectiveness so there is more time for student engagement as a result of this leverage that seems like a trade-off worthy of consideration.

Should Luther jump in and offer MOOCs? In their current form it doesn’t seem like the next best use of resources. It might be interesting to experiment with one or two from a branding and marketing perspective to extend awareness of Luther on topics unique to us and of exceptional quality. The goal of such an experiment would be to support recruiting efforts.

How do you think MOOCs will impact us and how should we think about leveraging and participating?

Suggested Reading/Viewing:

University of Minnesota signs on to offer free online classes

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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:
    • Library
      • Ryan shared Research Help Desk traffic statistics comparing Fall and Spring terms for this last week for each semester. Counts were approximately double based on Paideia research work. Students are building on information skills developed in the Fall classes. The writing tutors are leveraging the Research Help Desk more often with their clients. A recent meeting between the librarians and the writing tutors contributed to building the relationships leading to the referrals and handoffs.
    • Software Development
      • Marcia reviewed operational Software Development metrics, noting increase in KATIE requests in response to the transition to the newest version in late January and better tracking of KATIE requests. Some Software Development categories in the ticketing system may no longer be needed and new ones could be helpful. Software Development team will discuss next week.
      • Marcia reviewed the Software Development team meeting notes from earlier this week. Details at “Software Development Meeting February 18, 2013”:
      • IT Risk Assessment Update
        • Adam, Marcia, Jean met Tuesday to review my.luther issues.
        • Adam, Marcia, Steve, and Lane will meet Friday to review Reason & NorseCard issues.
        • Adam & Chris noticed that several of the servers were not scanned or included in the report. Adam will follow-up with the vendor to understand why that is the case.
  • New Items
    • Conference Attendance Communication
      • We discussed how to best communicate that one will be out at a conference. Ideas included telling the supervisor and the team you work with and will be covering your work as well as including the conference name on the in/out board. Another idea is to change the status for the event on calendar to “public” and include the conference name.
    • LISAAC Topics for 2/26
      • We discussed the topics we plan to include for the LISAAC meeting next week. They include an update on OCLC WMS, discussion of email id retention policy for various constituencies, sharing our intention to spin back up a student advisory group for LIS and sharing the dates for the LIS summer workshop (June 3-6).
  • Returning Items
    • IT Risk Management
      • Next week we will kick off meeting with the community of LIS staff that will contribute to resolving IT Risk issues starting with those discovered by recent testing.
    • LIS Website Migration to Reason
      • Three students are working on pages. The next set is “book” type pages. We were able to see some of the new pages on the development site.
    • Datatel Migration
      • Progress is being made but due to other items coming onto the work agenda it is difficult to predict when the team will be ready to cut over to the SQL Server version of Datatel from the Unidata version.
    • Document Imaging and Workflow
      • Marcia is validated and scrubbing costs especially those related to the in-house hosting and cloud-based hosting.
    • Digital Media Proposal
      • Paul sent a link to leaders for each of the areas that contributed to the proposal looking for input and feedback by this Friday, 2/22. Our plan is to integrate that feedback and then prepare to make a presentation and request to the Cabinet in early March.
    • OCLC WMS
      • John is gathering a group to talk about communication and change management and will share plans with LISAAC next Tuesday.

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
E-Books in the Classroom Faculty Development Feb 26 2013 – 4:00pm 5:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
3-D Printing Demonstration Product Demonstration Feb 27 2013 – 4:00pm 5:00pm Open
Google+ in the Classroom Faculty Development Mar 5 2013 – 4:00pm 5:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
Are You LinkedIn? Workshop Mar 6 2013 – 12:00pm 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug Open
What's Up with You?: A Google Demonstration Product Demonstration Mar 14 2013 – 12:00pm 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Mott Open
Who are you According to the Internet?: A Guide to Managing Your Online Reputation Workshop Apr 9 2013 – 12:00pm 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Mott Open
What is Google+ and Why Should I Care? Product Demonstration Apr 11 2013 – 6:30pm 7:30pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
Who are you According to the Internet?: A Guide to Managing Your Online Reputation Workshop Apr 16 2013 – 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.

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