This Week in LIS - 19 April 2013

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Headline of the Week: Teaching What You Are Just Learning

One upside of attending conferences is that there is a lot of time involved in travelling which can provide opportunity for reading and studying. The American Airlines shutdown on Tuesday provided even more!

This week I read an interesting book called, “Teaching What You Don’t Know”. It is a book written by a person in a faculty development position. Her day job is to help faculty continue to develop effective teaching skills.

She has observed, over the years, that faculty are frequently being assigned (and in some cases seek out) opportunities to teach courses and topics outside of their deep specialty. Doing this might take them out of their comfort zone. The book is full of techniques and approaches on how to reduce stress, increase teaching effectiveness and otherwise improve the experience for both instructor and students when one is a “content novice” relative to the course they are teaching.

It struck me that we in LIS are frequently in a similar position. With the pace of technology change, many of us are frequently assigned to learn new technologies and systems that are related to our specialties but are new to us. We are novices as we get started. This path can take us outside of our comfort zone. Not only do we need to learn new topics/technologies to solve problems and enable solutions, but we frequently need to teach them to others. First others on our teams, and then perhaps our support teams, and occasionally to end users in our broader Luther community. We might look at this book through the lens of developing the capacity to teach new technologies as they emerge. If you are involved in learning the new new thing in order to pass understanding onto others, you might find many of these techniques of use.

Personal experience suggests that a good way to increase understanding of something new is to sign up to teach it. Nothing like knowing you need to help someone else learn something to sharpen your attention while learning it yourself. Perhaps it leverages the power of the ego. No one wants to embarrass himself or herself.

In a complementary fashion there are a number of the techniques described in the book that beg for collaborative digital solutions. In the book, the techniques use note cards and slips of paper, etc – all fine analog tools. However, that led me to consider the value we might create if we provided “electronic” macros for these techniques that faculty teaching beyond their specialties might leverage. We could reduce the barrier to using a new technique if it was basically ready with processes and procedures on how to use it here in our Luther digital context.

What groups on campus might find value in such offerings? New faculty meet together to talk about teaching and learning. They are frequently teaching beyond their deep specialty. Paideia is another area that, by design, involves teaching content that stretches beyond the specialties of many faculty. Anytime we have a “center” that cuts across departmental disciplines we have an opportunity to leverage these techniques. All of these groups might be natural candidates.

Let me know if you see the same possibilities. Maybe we can spin up a prototype or two that we could make available to an instructor that sees the value and wants to experiment.

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

“Teaching What You Don’t Know”, by Therese Huston


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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:

  • Special Topic
    • Student Senate re Library Hours
      • Eddy and Diane shared that they have been in conversations concerning the idea of extending library hours. The motivation for this comes from a student representing the Student Senate. Conversations are continuing. Eddy shared results of a quick analysis. Out of 25 schools that compare to us, 13 close at midnight, 10 close at 1 a.m., and 2 close at 2 a.m. He also shared that recently, at the first announcement/closing announcement there are 30-60 students (typically 30-40) remaining in the library. His sense is this represented an increase from fall to spring and it might be related to Paideia research papers and senior paper work.
  • 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 reported on an exchange with a student representing Student Senate regarding wireless performance in Towers. Adam says the root of the problem is that there are more devices than in the past that are using 2.4 Ghz rather than 5 Ghz frequency. The recommendation is for devices to use the 5 Ghz frequency when possible. It was suggested that perhaps Student Senate could help with a publicity campaign. Also it is important the problems be reported through work orders so that specific problems can be diagnosed.
      • Adam plans to develop text to go to Kris Franzen (including review and edit of their webpages and how they are advertising network capabilities) to guide students to purchasing devices capable of 5Ghz operation. We further discussed the fact that wireless capacity, both in the wireless specifications and standards and in our implementation, is a limited resource. As more and more wireless devices come on campus we need to think about how, as a community, we raise that awareness and work towards using it like other limited resources such as energy and food to get the best overall performance for the community. We talked about various campus groups that might be part of such conversations.
      • Adam shared that the Xirrus access points will be unsupported after 2016 and we need to develop migration/replacement plans.
      • Adam suggested that he should extend the LCWireless5G network in all the places it is possible on campus. Another factor limiting our wireless performance is related to ongoing support for an early wireless standard IEEE 802.11b. Our network supports this in order to accommodate a class of gaming device popular with students (Nintendo Wii). Adam has recently discovered a potential workaround that would allow the legacy devices to work and to turn off 802.11b which would improve performance. Adam plans to do some testing with one of our Help Desk students to see if the idea works.
    • User Services
      • Music and Nursing are on the schedule to be refreshed this summer. Diane walked us through the process the faculty will follow; models and pricing are listed for them to consider.
      • We also discussed the lab, classroom, and podium upgrades that are on the schedule for this summer. Conversation was held with the Olin department heads to discuss options.
      • Diane shared the model used to budget for faculty, staff, lab, classroom, and podium workstations for the academic year.
      • There was a discussion related to the increasing cost of academic software maintenance paid by User Services, the changing model from purchase to subscription service contracts, and the budgetary impact.
      • Sophos on personally owned computers will no longer be an option by the end of May. This was announced at the staff meetings. For more information, visit

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
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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