Welcome back to MiddCreate Spotlight, a blog series hosted by the Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry. In this series, we highlight one MiddCreate site at regular intervals on our blog from a faculty, student or member of staff at Middlebury College or Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
MiddCreate is an initiative at Middlebury that offers faculty, staff, and students their own subdomain spaces and easy installation of open-source applications such as WordPress, ownCloud, MediaWiki, Drupal, Known, Scalar, and Omeka, among others. MiddCreate users can decide what tools they want to set up on their domains and have full control over their applications. MiddCreate encourages users to take ownership of their digital identity as well as to develop the digital literacies that will serve them well throughout their academic and professional trajectories.
This week in MiddCreate Spotlight we are highlighting a MiddCreate site created by Melissa Leigh Nix, a recent graduate of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey. Margaret was kind enough to answer some questions about her work with MiddCreate.
DLINQ: How would you describe your MiddCreate site?
Melissa: “I would describe my site as streamlined and simple. I designed it to be visually appealing but not overwhelming, personal but still professional. I wanted to create a site that is easy to navigate, with a focus on my work. I think my site showcases my love of travel and international experiences and my desire to make those experiences possible for other people. My favorite page right now is the work samples page– it took me a long time to decide how to represent my projects, and I really like the icons I created. ”
DLINQ: What is the purpose of your MiddCreate site?
Melissa: “The main purpose of my MiddCreate site is to showcase my work in international education. I like having this online portfolio as a supplement to my resume, because it is much more personalized and provides a lot more detail than a resume can. ”
DLINQ: How did you discover MiddCreate?
Melissa: “I had to build a website as part of my Principles and Practices of International Education during my first semester at MIIS. I learned about MiddCreate, along with a lot of other sites, in that class. I started playing around some other sites like Wix and Squarespace first, but didn’t feel like I could customize my site the way I wanted, so I decided to try MiddCreate instead. I liked the challenge of figuring it out, and I’m very happy with how my site ended up looking.”
DLINQ: What apps did you install on your domain, and how did you create your site?
Melissa: “The main app I use on my domain in just WordPress, with several additional plugins. The most important plugins I installed are Akismet Anti-Spam, Fast Secure Contact Form, Hide Title, and Page Builder by SiteOrigin. To create my site, I started by looking at sites I liked for inspiration and identifying what features attracted me to those sites. Then I incorporated some of those features into my own site. When I wasn’t sure how to do something, I looked for tutorials online. These tutorials led me to most of the apps I installed, which made it easier to create my site. ”
DLINQ: What are you plans for further development on your site?
Melissa: “I graduated from MIIS this past December, so I’m planning on find another place to host my site sometime in the next few months. I want to keep the site updated with my current projects so that it can continue to be an asset in my career. I also hope to add a section sometime soon to showcase some of my personal projects as well- I love photography and I’ve recently started drawing again, and I want to share that side of myself as well. ”
DLINQ: What advice would you give to someone just starting out on MiddCreate?
Melissa: “Don’t give up! For me, MiddCreate was a bit frustrating at first, but once you figure out a few steps everything gets much easier. I watched a few tutorials on how to install the apps I needed and how to customize specific sections of the site, which helped a lot. Once I understood the basic functions I was able to do a lot more. I’m very glad I stuck with it, because knowing how to create a website is a great skill to have (that a lot of people don’t have).”
DLINQ: What are your general thoughts on MiddCreate?
Melissa: “I think MiddCreate is a cool way to encourage students to gain new skills and try something they might not otherwise try. I love that MiddCreate is a resource available to students, and the creative community it encourages is very inspiring. The example sites always give me new ideas and make me want to me to keep working on mine. ”
DLINQ: How do you believe having the platform has helped you?
Melissa: “Because of Middcreate I tried working with certain apps, layouts and features that would cost money to use with a normal WordPress account. Having access to these features helped me customize my website more than I might have otherwise. At the beginning, I wouldn’t have paid for a feature I didn’t know how to use, but with MiddCreate I was able to explore different features and decide what worked for me. ”
The Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry encourages our readers to check-out Melissa’s MiddCreate site here.