This Week in LIS - 23 August 2013

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Headline of the Week:  Obama Encourages Higher Education Affordability – What Role for Innovation?

Yesterday, President Obama outlined plans and intentions to encourage change within higher education.   There are many messages for Luther College and LIS, the implications of which are unclear at this moment and will emerge over time.  I encourage you to read through this release twice.  The first time think about the various dynamics that are being proposed, the characteristics that are being teed up for change and the regulatory motivations outlined.  On the second read think about how those dynamics might create opportunity or otherwise impact our specific case at Luther College.

It began in February at the State of the Union Address.  President Obama linked college purpose to jobs and a path to middle class earnings.  He spoke of skyrocketing cost and unsustainable debt.  He recognized the federal government’s contribution through tax credits, grants and better loans but concluded it’s “our job” to make sure that colleges keep their costs down.

In a speech at Knox College last month, President Obama said he would “shake up” higher education with a “strategy" aimed at making college more affordable.

Affordability is the cornerstone.  Outcomes and results will be rewarded.  Innovation will be encouraged.  The plans call for rating colleges and incenting them with federal funding based on those ratings.

A challenge in this for all institutions is what will be measured and to what degree will the data model and associated metrics reflect the value and quality of our various offerings? Regulations tend to have unintended consequences. Data models and measurements are at best proxies for reality. What will the measurements conclude about Luther College?

One of the very exciting elements of the message is the focus on innovation. Innovation is held up as the means to impact affordability and quality.  Innovation can occur anywhere. It tends to happen at the edges and the boundaries between organizational structures. It tends to happen when there is collaboration across the boundaries. Innovations sometimes lower costs.  Innovations sometimes create new possibilities.

As I read the Obama plan the second time I thought about some of the investments and changes already underway. It was encouraging. Two jumped immediately to mind.

We had a great turnout for this summer’s workshop Enhancing Student Learning Through Information Literacy and Technology.  The Dean is encouraging the cadre of new tenure tracks to take this workshop as well in their first three years.  This workshop provides time and structure for collaborative conversations between faculty and LIS that can lead to innovation. Reflecting on the workshop has also signaled to me that within LIS we will want to consider investing additional energy and investment into the gap between tools and technologies and their usage in pedagogically sound ways based on learning science and leveraging experiences from across higher education. We can play a role is assembling best practices and exemplar cases to further inform collaborative conversation with faculty.

The second is the investment the Cabinet has made in creating a Digital Media Center.  This promises to provide the space, infrastructure, equipment and staffing to support innovations in teaching and learning that leverage digital media.  The pounding and the drilling and the sawing will soon be over and the center will be “open for business.”

It is enthusing to research, explore, converse and collaborate on how we can enable the highest quality and most affordable teaching and learning enablement.  What an extraordinary time to be part of higher education.

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address

Full transcript: President Obama’s remarks on the economy at Knox College 

FACT SHEET on the President’s Plan to Make College More Affordable: A Better Bargain for the Middle Class

Obama’s Plan Aims to Lower Cost of College

Obama Vows Action on College Costs, but Observers Say His Options Are Few

Analyzing President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Enhancing Student Learning Through Information Literacy and Technology - Summer 2013 Faculty Workshop

Headline of the Week: Classrooms, Social Media, Information and Technology Literacy

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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 a chart that shows server room power usage.  It showed an overall downward trend over the last 4 years.  This is congruent with server vendor focus on power and processing technology improvements.  Questions were raised about how that reduction in power relates to expense that will require further investigation and information.  Another graph showed the growth in wireless connections the network is supporting as students return to campus.
    • User Services
      • Diane reported on a Qualtrics Workshop held 8/21.  Qualtrics is survey and analysis software that has been licensed for campus wide use (visit  LIS would encourage the community to use this as an alternative to many individual and departmental subscriptions to other tools such as SurveyMonkey.  There were 6 facilitators leveraging expertise from a number of departments and 16 attendees including attendees from the LIS Technology Help Desk to further prepare for supporting the Luther community’s use of Qualtrics.
      • Diane talked the Council through some proposed changes to the data to be collected for Work Orders that will facilitate better analysis which in turn can help us with planning and quality.  An “asset” field will be used more intentionally and a classroom/lab field (leveraging information from AdAstra) was added.  Further an icon has been added to classroom and lab desktops for Quik-Submit to facilitate more complete data collection.  It is essential to improved quality of services over time to get information captured on problems reported.
      • User Services plans to send out customer feedback surveys about ⅓ of the time and randomly, rather than every time, with the goal to improve quality of feedback by avoiding a level of survey fatigue.  The format is being simplified as well.
      • Another process change introduces a checklist and tracking system to support classroom and lab room checks to ensure they are ready to go or we know what needs to be updated or changed by the start of the Fall Semester.
  • New Items
    • Extended Hours
      • We discussed the pilot collaboration with Campus Safety & Security to extend library hours.  A draft of “Security Late Night Information and Guidelines” was reviewed and challenges were identified for resolution.
    • Budget Challenges
      • We identified a number of areas of budget concern where we know or anticipate the need to resolve through reallocations.
  • Returning Items
    • Digital Media Center
      • We discussed the progress on construction of the Digital Media Center which includes a Multimedia Lab and a Multimedia Studio with a Control Booth. We also discussed use of the new spaces by the Communication Studies and Visual & Performing Arts departments and the relationship of these new spaces to CFA 118.
    • Bernice Rise Trust
      • Additional ideas for use of the Bernice Rise Trust were solicited. This fund is for acquisition and preservation of Norwegian and/or Norwegian-American materials, such as digitizing the Decorah Posten.

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
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 1 of 2) Workshop Aug 26 2013 - 9:00am - 12:00pm Main 114 Closed
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 1 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 26 2013 - 9:00am - 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Closed
Paideia 111/112 New Instructor Workshop (Day 2 of 2) Workshop Aug 27 2013 - 9:00am - 12:00pm Main 114 Closed
Luther College as a Community of Faith and Learning (Day 2 of 2) Faculty Development Aug 27 2013 - 9:00am - 3:30pm Loyalty Board Room Closed
New Faculty KATIE Workshop Faculty Development Aug 28 2013 - 10:00am - 12:00pm Olin 301 - Round Table Room Open
Updates for Academic Advisors Faculty Development Aug 28 2013 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm Main 114 Open
New Faculty KATIE Workshop Faculty Development Sep 4 2013 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm Olin 301 - Round Table Room 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.

Content is made available under Creative Commons license.