Middlebury's Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ), is the result of unifying the Academic Technology Group in Middlebury, the Digital Learning Commons in Monterey, and the Office of Digital Learning. DLINQ was launched in January 2018.
DLINQ explores and creates digital practices and spaces that advance the transformative potential of education in students’ lives. Teaching and learning are at our core--because teaching and learning are at the core of education. If education is to be a transformative force in students' lives, we must think hopefully, but critically, about the role technology/the digital plays in teaching and learning.
DLINQ also advances digital fluency and critical engagement with the digital at Middlebury. We recognize that “the digital” already pervades our lives and brings with it many opportunities, but also dangerous inequities, black box algorithms that obscure and manipulate what we see and do, and threats to students’ and our data. This organization will address the need for students, faculty, and staff to develop critical digital literacies that help them combat those threats and help them become change agents toward a world we want to see.
We characterize this mission as working at the intersections of criticality and hope. Criticality and hope must accompany one another in order for our work to make a meaningful and equitable difference in students’ lives. In Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire wrote: “One of the tasks of the progressive educator, through a serious, correct political analysis, is to unveil opportunities for hope, no matter what the obstacles may be.” Criticality must be paired with hope; hope must be paired with criticality.
By advancing the transformative potential of education in students’ lives via digital practices and spaces, and by helping students, faculty, and staff to develop critical digital literacies, we are contributing to Middlebury’s vision of a robust and inclusive public sphere where ethical citizens work across intellectual, geographical, and cultural borders. We are supporting Middlebury communities to become agents of change--to have agency in digital spheres to enact change--and to be leaders in the world.
DLINQ serves all of Middlebury, including the College in Middlebury, VT, the Institute in Monterey, CA, the Language Schools, Schools Abroad, the School of the Environment, and Bread Loaf School of English. By combining expertise in instructional design, pedagogical research, learning space design, animation and video production, and more, the team provides dynamic, strategic, and robust resources that are accessible to faculty, staff, and students across all of Middlebury's programs.
Since the decision to create a unified organization, staff have come together to begin realigning processes, developing new team relationships, and preparing to launch a robust organization in January. We formed “tiny teams” (ad hoc specialized teams that nimbly advance high priority work) to address our web presence, intake and project management processes, communications, stakeholder engagement, and student employment programs. The leadership team has been meeting with partner organizations, like the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research (CTLR), Information Technology Services (ITS), and the Libraries, to ensure those partnerships remain strong, and that services that engage faculty and students continue without interruptions.
DLINQ works closely with partners across the institution, including the Digital Liberal Arts initiative; the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research; Information Technology Services, the Libraries; Student Creativity, Engagement, and Careers; and with the leaders of Middlebury’s academic programs. The team welcomes input and new partners as the organization takes shape.