This Week in LIS - 5 April 2013

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Headline of the Week: Stanford U. and edX will Jointly Build Open-Source Software to Deliver MOOCs

News and conversations on MOOCs continue. The hype is rampant and the term is so overloaded that it would not be surprising to soon see key participants invent new language to characterize their offerings and to describe their value distancing themselves from MOOCs. Those in the fray are struggling to communicate their unique value and differentiate themselves from the others – even as the juries remain out on the premise. That said, the topic should not be dismissed out of hand. It seems useful to continue to study and mine for the gems that might be extracted from the media referenced tailings that could provide value for our students.

There is a business strategy theory called RBV – resource-based view. Essentially it says that competitive advantage depends on firms creating/securing and leveraging assets that are rare, valuable, not easily imitated and for which substitution is also not easy. Netflix is frequently referenced as an example. Although their DVD distribution is extraordinary, it could be copied given enough capital. The components can be procured in the market. However all the data they have that drives their recommender engine on what videos customers might next want to view is not easily copyable by a would be competitor. High quality recommendations are a key part of their value proposition and one durable to the streaming world.

One area within the MOOC concept that seems promising is the adaptive learning element. If one can “watch” thousands of students work through a course (because their work is “inside” an electronic learning environment and is represented by click streams and outcome evaluations), and if there are multiple approaches to learning within the course, recommender technology could be used to determine and suggest alternative delivery approaches to the next student for material for that has been shown to lead to good outcomes for other students like one currently struggling. This seems especially useful for courses that are stable from term to term.

Some of this is going on already without the benefit of adaptive technology and huge experience databases to drive recommenders. A student I worked with earlier this year described an online tool used in her finance course that monitors her work on problems and provides hints when answers are incorrect and additional problems to work on the path to mastery.

I am encouraged by the news that edX and Stanford (both non-profits) will collaborate, integrate their platform offerings and make them available as open source. On the assumption that the platform will include adaptive learning capability it will be interesting to consider experimenting with it to see how we might make it available for our faculty to consider.

It begs the question, will the open source platform also include the data that drives the adaptive technology or will that essential component be retained for the developer’s competitive advantage?

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

Stanford U. and edX Will Jointly Build Open-Source Software to Deliver MOOCs

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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 over 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. The past two week’s reports included the following:
    • Library (3/27)
      • Ryan shared statistics on Paideia usage of Research Help. Usage is trending higher for 2013 than for 2012.
      • We looked at EBSCO database usage comparing Feb 2012 with Feb 2013. There were slightly fewer sessions and a big increase in the number of searches and full text documents retrieved.
      • There have been 197 instruction sessions so far this year.
    • Software Development (3/27)
    • Network & Systems (4/3)
      • Adam was out so no report this week.
    • User Services (4/3)
      • Diane shared an update on commencement preparations well underway. There are items to be ordered. In addition, purchasing or leasing another mixing board and a camera are being considered.
      • We discussed sustaining projectors and their ongoing maintenance. We have approximately 150 on campus. New or updated buildings come with them but without additional ongoing funding to replace or maintain them. The transition to HD by the industry needs to be considered in selecting replacement models.
      • Staff computer refresh for this year has been completed.
      • Planning for the summer 2013 faculty computer refresh for Music and Nursing is in progress.
      • Updates have been made to computers and software in the Language Learning Center.
      • Some KBOX reports have been requested from Facilities.
      • We discussed software costs and requests from the perspective of affordability with focus on next fiscal year.
      • Summer student worker positions in User Services are filled at this time.
      • Further analysis has been done on the video conversions done for use through KATIE. This deeper understanding will influence the conversations on how to smooth the work spikes just prior and during each semester’s start.
  • New Items
    • Help Desk Lead Search
      • A brief update on the search was shared. Carsten Earl has been hired and will start with LIS April 15.
    • Library Open House
      • Plans have been made for the “Destination Luther: Admitted Student Visit Day” open house. SASC, Writing Help, and Speech and Debate Center are also interested in participating.
    • Laurel’s Last Day
      • Laurel returned to LIS to assist during our interim between Program Support Coordinators. Her last day with LIS was 3/28. Treats were served.
    • April LIS General
      • We used an “open mic” format with 5 minutes per talk to encourage LIS to share with one another the cool things they are working on or cool apps they have discovered, etc. A message went out to request volunteers who had things they’d like to share.
    • ICN Internet Contract
      • We discussed possibilities given the contract is coming due.
    • Records Retention Review
      • Sasha and Rachel have set up a schedule to talk with offices about retention of their records and review and update the plans.
    • Strategy Event
      • Paul requested input from the Council to guide planning for a summer strategy-focused event for LIS. We also discussed some options and constraints on scheduling possibilities.
    • ILLiad Server Update
      • Ryan shared that the ILLiad server needs to be updated by mid-July. A number of considerations were discussed including virtualizing the server, separating the database server from the application, which database is required and licensing and who will be assigned to do the update. Ryan has the lead to work with Marcia, Diane and Adam to work through these considerations to create a specific plan and assignments.
  • Returning Items
    • Antivirus
      • We are ready to sign a new 1 year contract with Sophos that will not include providing service to students, faculty and staff on their personal computers. Matt H and Dave H will co lead a project to decide what antivirus to use going forward.
    • LIS Communication Plan
      • We discussed Google’s intention to retire its reader and what recommendation our updated communication plan would make when we move to Reason for our LIS website.
    • IT Risk Management
      • The focus of efforts are on the “H” items in preparation for the re-test. We will continue to track progress through IT Risk Status update meetings. Those working on items should report progress, share work plans to complete mitigation and identify any issues they are encountering.
    • Datatel Migration
      • A new test environment based on SQL Server was created last week. Testing will be done to see if the modifications that have been made in Unidata environment over the years do or do not work in SQL Server and if not what changes are required. This discovery work is prerequisite to developing a migration schedule.
    • LIS Website Migration to Reason
      • Ryan reported that the team has looked at the design of landing pages. The manual content move should be complete in the next two weeks. The migration of the blog is prioritized after the calendaring project and the security work. A list is being generated for the remaining items to work through, e.g. forms handling.
    • Document Imaging
      • Next step is to meet with Keith to finalize the proposal and layout communication and decision making plan.
    • Digital Media Proposal
      • Paul and Rob presented the proposal to Cabinet. It was well received and there was good support. The focus of the conversation was how to fund the proposal. The Cabinet is evaluating a number proposals and we expect to hear an outcome at the end of April.
    • OCLC WMS
      • John has negotiated an acceptable schedule. It includes migrating historical circulation data. Lists have been provided for our various collections. Training of technical,staff is underway. We need to prepare foe substantial testing in June. We need to try to identify linkages within KATIE that will need to be updated to smooth the transition.

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
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
Update on Summer 2013 Faculty Computer Roll-out Faculty Development Apr 24 2013 – 1:30pm 2:30pm Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug Open
Update on Summer 2013 Faculty Computer Roll-out Faculty Development Apr 30 2013 – 11:00am 12:00pm Dahl Centennial Union – Borlaug 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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