This Week in LIS - 15 March 2013

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Headline of the Week: MOOCs as On-Ramp/Demand Relief for Students (that start in California)

A very interesting leap occurred this week along the MOOC maturity vector. Proposed legislation in California (Senate Bill 520) would require California’s state colleges and universities (University of California, California State University and California’s community colleges) to accept credits earned via a subset of MOOCs. Presumably they would be a set of MOOCs whose quality had been vetted a priori by a faculty council, targeting current scarce general-education courses. The initial motivation is to leverage MOOC seat availability to solve the available seat problem in traditional general-education classes. In California, the fact that there are students queued up to get into classes and not being able to is gating their academic progress which in turn is seen as inhibiting economic vitality in California. The news and the “spot bill” raises more questions than it answers and many systematic changes and details need to be worked out. This move seems provocative and aggressive but the “experiment” will force initial answers to many practical questions.

This is being proposed to try to remedy a supply and demand mismatch in California. It makes me think about what supply and demand mismatches we contend with and could some of these alternative teaching and learning approaches provide enablement for solutions. One that comes to mind is the growing number of sections of courses that are designed to help students who, for whatever reason, are under-prepared in some dimension for the rigors of a liberal arts education. An example might be that they have never experienced a lab course or their high school background did not give them experience in reading complex materials or sufficient skills in writing. Maybe early choices in high school did not prepare a student for college level math. When we allocate resources to these courses implicitly there are opportunity costs. If there were alternatives that required fewer resources, what might we do with the freed up capacity to enable our students’ successes in other ways? As I’ve shared before, it seems that many of these alternatives require the most mature and disciplined students to learn. Perhaps the students in these courses are most successful with a large investment in hands-on, face to face interaction and this MOOC application will be instructive. California is likely to find that those that get through MOOCs successfully are otherwise highly capable, tenacious learners, suffering only from access problems and this access solution becomes a good selection vehicle for their high education system.

At the other end, in some of our most advanced and upper level courses we wish we could get further leverage out of the investment we make in teaching and learning resources. Small classes are fantastic for interaction and a hallmark of our offering. Classes that are too small create pressures elsewhere in the system. The impacts are felt “far away” from oversupply situations and the cause and effect are not easily correlated. In other cases sometimes courses with low enrollments are simply not held. Resources are preserved and student opportunity is traded off. This is also a supply and demand mismatch. In this case the demand is what is in short supply.

Is there something that might be done through partnerships or collaborations to look out beyond our walls to others in similar situations to see if combining our demands and our collective supplies could get a better match? Surely this would be better for each institution from the perspective of relieving some level of demand pressures elsewhere in their system and surely better for the students who might otherwise face course cancellations.

I encourage you to think about how we might experiment with our supply and demand mismatches, leveraging innovative approaches to see what me might learn. California’s bold legislation, if passed, will be something to watch as well to inform ideas we might have.

Suggested Reading/Viewing:

California’s Move Toward MOOCs Sends Shock Waves, but Key Questions Remain Unanswered

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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:
    • Archives
      • February saw increased “foot traffic” in the archives. More students leveraged the archives; two specific students were working on significant projects and they drove a substantial portion of the traffic. Reference questions and file retrieval are the largest request areas.
      • Nordic site traffic was also up in February and most of the traffic is coming from outside Luther. It was also noted that we had 44 visits from mobile devices.
      • A number of project updates were shared. Records management processes are being considered in light of the planned introduction of document imaging. The archives website is being reinvisioned and expertise from marketing is being leveraged in developing the design. The Journeys to America final report is coming due. With the Archives Leadership Institute class selected the team is moving to making travel arrangements for Institute faculty, steering members, and attendees with travel scholarships for the event this summer. On the Postville Project there is work on an additional grant (led by UNI) that would integrate some additional components to the website. Finally, accessioning planning workflow is being reconsidered to work with Archon.
    • Software Development
      • Three Box Office software vendor demonstrations occurred within the past week in order to evaluate the functionality for appropriateness for Luther’s needs.
      • Regarding the First Year Pre-registration application, a request has been made to identify one person to integrate and reconcile the multiple requests/requirements for next year’s implementation. The marketing team has agreed to provide input on the user experience and look and feel.
  • New Items
    • Topics for Student Advisory Group to Explore
      • We are intending to re-establish a student based LIS advising function (in addition to the two students that are part of the LIS Academic Advisory Council with the Dean’s Office. We invite conversation and ideas for topics for which specific student input would be useful.
    • Faculty Development and Summer Workshop
      • Discussion was held with our partners in the Dean’s Office to pin down the dates for the Summer Workshop. Agreement was reached to go with the June 3-6 dates, with the possibility to develop another event to reach out to new faculty later when they are available. Promotion will go out soon to ask for applications.
      • We also discussed the idea of LIS hosting half-day faculty development sessions in the summer focused around particular topics such as classroom technologies, survey tools, or video chat options.
    • New Faculty Group session
      • LIS will lead the new faculty group session that is scheduled for Friday, March 22. Last year, Andi talked about library topics and Rebecca shared about KATIE and classroom technologies.
    • Alumni Magazine
      • We discussed a proposed LIS/library article that is in development by Kate Frentzel.
    • Campus Manager Upgrade Over Spring Break?
      • Adam would like to upgrade to version 6.0. Spring break is a better time than summer to allow for a quicker look at load issues and have documentation ready for incoming/returning students. The upgrade is tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 29.
    • Learning Analytics Idea
      • Bob Puffer joined us to share his idea for providing learning analytics within KATIE that would provide a view of students’ progress that is not currently available. The most fundamental formulation of Learning Analytics is the ability to discern from the LMS what students are potentially in trouble across more than one course in a term. Discussions will be held with the Dean’s Office and Student Life to share the idea and learn of their interest.
    • Norwegian Newspaper Project
      • A Brooklyn Norwegian group would like to digitize one of our microfilm runs of a Norwegian American paper. Rachel presented the prospect of a larger project, to create a collection of multiple digitized papers.
  • Returning Items
    • LIS Site to Reason
      • We reviewed the list of LISers who volunteered to be on our LIS Web team for the project to move our website to Reason. The LIS Emergency Policy is the next content to be moved over to Reason by the students working on the transition.
    • OCLC WMS
      • We discussed thoughts on the ROI program for the OCLC WMS and are generally supportive of looking into it more.

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
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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