This Week in LIS - 8 March 2013

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Headline of the Week: What if Employers Change What They Value?

One of my favorite professors is Clayton Christensen. He is at Harvard Business School. Clayton has popularized the term “disruptive innovation” in a series of books beginning with “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. He was interviewed by Mark Suster, an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist and blogger. That interview was published to YouTube on February 18, 2013.

In the interview, Clayton talks about the disruption to graduate school higher education and in particular shares his concern about the future for the Harvard Business School. He thinks a combination of highly motivated learners, access to alternative learning resources leveraged while one is employed, and followup by practice to develop the skills needed, may disrupt the traditional model of taking two years off to go get an MBA and that will adversely affect Harvard Business School and their current business model.

During this discussion he offers another very interesting conjecture. What if businesses begin to highly value individuals that are able to earn a degree from learning resources and models beyond the traditional higher education model? What if the ability to do that signals a level of grit, tenacity, durability, and resilience that employers want in a fast changing world? What if that achievement tells employers something very positive about the characteristics of those that can do this and they are rewarded with opportunity? If that incentive were in place how might Luther be affected? How might we respond?

It brought to mind a paper and a diagram I’d studied a while ago in preparing to talk to a Board of Regents plenary session on “The Dynamics of Higher Education.” Mark Staton tries to enumerate in a diagram (Figure 1 – College: A Packaged Bundle) a collection of elements that in our current higher education model (and especially the residential experience) that are bundled together in an integrated offering. He talks about new and emerging models that essentially disaggregate the integrated offering and he discusses which pieces would be easier and which would be more difficult.

Clayton, in his interview, goes on to talk about what happens when offerings emerge that are highly integrated and how successful they are when they really “perform a job” for the consumer that they cannot get otherwise. He shares that over time, however, dominant designs emerge and then modularizing comes into play and from there innovation happens within layers of the architecture and the integrated design’s value gives way to more commoditized, modular designs which tend to be cheaper and still “get the job done”. It makes me think about how a traditional residential college degree does a number of different jobs for students today and how Mark’s disaggregation ideas really represent modularization of the integrated offering.

When I think about which students would be successful earning a degree through online courses and MOOCs and self-learning and passing competency based exams, I think about some of our best and brightest, those most mature and self-directed. In recent posts I have speculated that it will not be long before we hear about someone earning a degree leveraging these new models. What would be the impact on our classes if industry, through hiring preferences, provides incentives for them to go these alternative ways?

I am confident there are many jobs that a residential liberal arts experience performs for our students. Our challenge is to continue to amplify those values and learn how to measure them and explain those values in ways that resonate with prospectives and their families. Another consideration is how to leverage some of these alternative resources to the advantage of our students and the impact we have on them with our offerings.

Suggested Reading/Viewing:

Startup Grind 2013 Clayton Christensen Interview with Mark Suster

Disaggregating the Components of a College Degree

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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
      • Adam shared Internet connection usage graphs. We have 380 Mbps total and shaping takes effect at 85% usage. Usage is reasonably well distributed between our three connections: Mediacom (90 Mbps), ICN (200 Mbps) and NEIT (90 Mbps).
      • He also shared statistics related to the number of total devices registered by student. 637 students have registered 1 device, 944 have registered 2 devices, 451 have registered 3, 130 have registered 4, 43 have registered 5, 7 have registered 6, and two have registered 7 devices.
      • Adam researched the impact of the blackout events held by Residence Life during the energy competition; no significant impact on the number of wireless connections was noticed.
    • User Services
      • Diane shared metrics and graphs related to the number of KATIE video conversions requested over time since the fall of 2008. Numbers and graphs were shown by date needed, by number of days from request to date needed, and by requester.
      • We began discussion of alternatives to the current method, issues to be addressed, and additional data to be gathered.
  • New Items
    • Evaluations
      • We reviewed the message received by HR regarding performance evaluations indicating that evaluations are to be completed by Friday, June 21, 2013. LIS is to have reviews done and the paperwork to Paul by Wednesday, June 19 in order to make that deadline.
    • SSS Celebration Banquet Invitation
      • Two invitations have been sent to LIS to attend this year’s SSS Celebration Banquet. We have also received a request for door prizes for students for the event. Germano and Patty will attend to represent LIS this year. Ryan will follow up on door prizes.
  • Returning Items
    • LIS Communication Plan
      • We discussed how to move forward with the proposed changes. The maintainer of the LIS Norse Group will be Ryan. We will move to the new workflow all at once when we’ve migrated to Reason on or around June. There isn’t need for double entry in the interim.
    • IT Risk Management
      • We discussed plans for moving forward with the response to the security audit. It includes getting more clarity from Integrity on the findings and distributing the workload within LIS.
    • LIS Website Migration to Reason
      • Ryan will get a group of LISers together to determine the design and navigation for the new LIS website on Reason.
    • Digital Media Proposal
      • The target is to present the digital media proposal to Cabinet at the 3/18 meeting. Update since LIS Council is that the proposal will be discussed at the 4/1 Cabinet meeting.
    • KATIE
      • Meeting planned for March 8 to look at Morsle folder structure ideas and auto-linking of course evaluations. The folder structure within KATIE has been working well and we’re considering something similar, organizing folders by semester, within Morsle / Google Drive.

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
What's Up with You?: A Google Demonstration Product Demonstration Mar 14 2013 – 12:00pm 1:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Mott Open
Zotero Workshop — Grab your research with a single click. Workshop Apr 3 2013 – 7:00pm 8:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge Open
Luther College Archives: Research 101 Product Demonstration Apr 8 2013 – 2:00pm 3:00pm Preus Library – Hovde Lounge 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
Zotero Workshop — Grab your research with a single click. Workshop May 1 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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