Online Certificate Courses for Community Interpreting

Written by CatherineRose Mountain

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey is well-known for its Translation and Interpretation M.A. program; a number of interpreters at the recent Winter Olympics, for example, were MIIS alumni and professors. Not all interpreters have to hop on a plane to South Korea to get to work, however; community interpreters help local residents communicate across language barriers in settings like hospitals and courtrooms.

The Institute offers a certificate in Spanish Community Interpreting for students who want to specialize in medical and legal fields. In the future, this curriculum may be be available to professional interpreters from beyond the Institute. DLINQ Instructional Designer Amy Slay is a key member of the team—headed up by Assistant Dean for Language and Professional Programs Patricia Szasz—that is making these courses available online to reach a wider audience. Amy partnered with professor and Institute alumna, Johanna Parker, to redesign the course, using Canvas LMS for resource sharing and asynchronous interactivity, as well as Zoom web-conferencing tool for live activities like presentations and roleplays. The eight week online course,”Medical Concepts & Terminology”, launched in J term and ended earlier this month.

Amy designed the first iteration of the course in 2015, back when the Institute was using Moodle. Adobe Connect was used for interactive components, but presented some technical challenges. Zoom has been a much better tool for these purposes, which allowed Amy to focus on her role as a pedagogical consultant, instead of fielding tech support issues. Mark Basse, DLINQ Digital Media Specialist, has been instrumental in producing course lecture videos.

Middlebury’s recent migration from Moodle to Canvas offered an opportunity to reconceptualize the course. Amy’s goal for these types of projects is to partner with the professor during the development/design phase, building a collaborative framework that the instructor can adjust and manage as the course runs. This is one of three online courses for this program that Amy has designed. The results are promising, and several more courses for this certificate are currently under development. The next course to go live later this month will be “Written & Sight Translation of Medical Texts.”

“What Is Digital Fluency & Why Does It Matter?”

Written by Bob Cole

On Tuesday, March 13, Amy Collier (Associate Provost for Digital Learning), Mike Roy (Dean of the Library), and Bob Cole (DLINQ Exploratory Initiatives & Partnerships) convened faculty and staff at the College and at the Institute via video conference to explore critical digital fluency. The “behind-the-scenes” series of academic roundtables is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching, Learning & Research (CTLR), the Digital Liberal Arts initiative (DLA), and the Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry (DLINQ).

Amy Collier kicked off the session by first problemetizing the web as a place that is highly networked and ‘platformed’ via hyperlinks, syndicated content, and black-box algorithms. She emphasized that the web isn’t neutral. In fact, much of the web that we and our students experience through social networks and mainstream news sites is highly consolidated and centralized. With a critical lens we begin to understand that there are systemic biases hard-coded into the digital platforms we frequent which are driven by private commercial interests. Where we find examples of digital platforms serving as places of social connection and public dialog, we also find as many cases where the same platforms have enabled the intentional weaponization of information by bad actors.

Amy discussed her teaching—in which she brings students into contact with critical digital fluency through a variety of focused investigations of truth and trust in digital spaces inspired by Mike Caulfield’s work on digital polarization and web literacy for students as fact checkers. The framework for these investigations invites students to practice what Caulfield calls “the four moves” of verifying claims found online in news feeds and social networks. The trustworthiness of news stories, memes, videos, and websites can be further interrogated by introducing students to fact-checking sites like Snopes and web tools like reverse Google image search,, the fake news codex, and that help reveal metadata about information sources and creators. A result of these critical investigations is a heightened awareness of the structural issues that shape trust in our digital environments and how, without a critical disposition, we may be complicit in the spread of misinformation.

The session closed with small groups considering a variety of statements describing concepts like information literacy, digital fluency, and digital citizenship while making important connections with disciplinary studies of intercultural competence and cultural media literacy. Although the groups did not reach a consensus on a definition of critical digital fluency, DLINQ initiatives like “Information Environmentalism” led by Amy Collier and the forthcoming “Digital Fluencies” workshop series led by Michael Kramer offer examples of emerging ways Middlebury is critically exploring the digital.

Access the google slides from the roundtable and learn more about the behind-the-scenes series from the Digital Liberal Arts initiative here.

Weekly Writing Group: Time to Write

Co-written by CatherineRose Mountain and Evelyn Helminen

Evelyn Helminen, Assistant Director for Digital Initiatives at DLINQ, created this weekly drop-in writing group to give writers at the Institute a regular time and space to write. Students, faculty, and staff work on a variety of projects, from fiction to academic writing, to blog entries to nonfiction family history. Participants sometimes also work on research papers, resumes, or cover letters. The writing group serves as a scheduled time to write with a community of like-minded people—all who want to move their writing project(s) forward.

Evelyn is a writing coach and consultant who has written nine novels and is currently editing her science fiction novel as well as blogging from time to time. Her open drop-in writing group takes place daily, on Monday through Friday from 11:00-12:00 Pacific Time in the McGowan 220 Suite on the Monterey campus.

She is now considering offering an online version, so if you are interested in participating virtually, please contact Evelyn.

Photo by Sandis Helvigs on Unsplash