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The DIRT for July 30-Aug 3, 2018

Proposed XR Studio

Written by Nadani Dixon

XR Reality (XR)  or Extended Reality consists of technology-mediated experiences that combine digital and biological realities. XR is the parent category of VR (virtual), AR (augmented) and MR (mixed). MR is the specific category of realities where the digital is aware of and responds to physical reality. VR is en entirely digital experience, everything you see and hear is constructed while AR is the location of digital information in physical space; think Pokemon Go and QR codes XR allows users to generate new forms of reality by bringing digital objects into the physical world and bringing physical world objects into the digital world.

Faculty on the college’s campus, led by Senior Curricular Innovation Strategist, Joe Antonioli  have been exploring virtual reality for a couple years now with their first Oculus Development Kit obtained about four years ago. An academic experimentation with VR happened last Fall semester with Patricia Saldarriaga’s first year seminar, Apocalyptic Representations. The course explored theories and representations of “apocalyptic imagination” across many forms of media, including virtual reality and presented their final project – virtual worlds representing the apocalypse – in the Davis Family Library. Since then VR has been introduced in music – Professor Peter Hamlin’s Electronic Music course and more recently in language learning for the Spanish Summer Language School. A student studying Portuguese used Google Earth in virtual reality to bring the class to his community in Brazil. The street view was used to walk down road and alleys to get an idea of what life was like for him in Brazil and the entire conversation was in language. Joe foresees VR will be used in other languages.

With the Digital Liberal Arts initiative exploring the idea of studio based learning as a way to engage people with digital methods of research, Amy Collier floated this idea to DLINQ and conversations were had about how Middlebury would use XR and how these ideas would be supported. The college grew interested in full embodiment distant communication where each party is fully immersed in the other’s environment. It is thought that this method of communication will add more context to discussions and ultimately continue to build relationships through technology. The XR Studio is still in its formative stage with many possibilities of implementation – a virtual reality station or room could be set up, headset technology could be personal devices much like cellular phones etc. The studio will bring students, faculty and staff to work collaboratively on components of virtual spaces, immersive and  interactive multimedia experiences. It also begs the question of whether or not every studio needs a physical space. These and other ideas are being ‘ironed out’ to pilot this XR studio in Fall 2018.


Where Are Our Alumni? – DMT Alumni Update

Written by Heather Stafford

Our student workers balance their time between collaboratively managing our Labs’ (Digital Learning Commons, Wilson Media Lab, Animation Studio) resources; supporting specific projects; and providing generous and hospitable customer service to the Middlebury community by taking appointments, helping drop-in visitors, and facilitating tutorial and learning sessions. They have a passion for learning, creativity, technology, and helping others. They want to develop their teaching and facilitation skills. And they are interested in how technology is reshaping the way we communicate and learn.

Student alumni of our office, whether in the form of Interns, Digital Media Tutors, or Graduate Assistants, have gone on to pursue a variety of careers after graduating from Middlebury. The skills they gain while working in our office give them an advantage in many ways.

One example is Maggie Cochrane ’16 who graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Architecture.  As a student she worked as the student supervisor of the Digital Media Tutors as well as the online manager of the student newspaper website, The Middlebury Campus. During the summer of 2018 she was working at an architectural office in Michigan which specialized in contemporary Native American architecture. Maggie is now attending graduate school for Architecture at the University of Michigan and is due to graduate in 2020. 

Learn more about her accomplishments and thoughts about her time as a Digital Media Tutor at Middlebury.


Newspapers on Wikipedia Project – Blog Post by Amy Collier

Written by Nadani Dixon

Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, wrote a blog post entitled “Newspapers on Wikipedia – What DLINQ students & staff are up to”. The post reports on the NOW (Newspapers on Wikipedia) Project an initiative founded by Mike Caulfield,  the Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and head of the Digital Polarization Initiative of the American Democracy Project, a multi-school pilot to change the way that online media literacy is taught. The goal of the initiative is to write 1,000 articles on Wikipedia about historic local news sources by the end of this calendar year.

Amy informs that a Middlebury team of students and staff, a part of DLINQ’s emerging Information Environmentalism studio, have joined the project. She explains that the studio is in  a pilot phase and their goal is “to work with students and faculty to de-pollute digital information environments”. This extends from a belief that “civil engagement in digital spheres supports peace and social justice in our world and that, currently, forces of discrimination, hate, and conflict undermine those goals”. Amy expresses that the work of the studio directly addresses Middlebury’s strategic direction focused on critical digital fluency. There is also an additional incentive for project members – Read about the NOW Charity Challenge.

To date, the team has learned a lot about Wikipedia, added infoboxes to 22 existing newspaper Wikipedia articles, created 5 new pages for local news sourced and wiki-gnomes 3 existing pages. For next fall, the studio plans to bring more Middlebury students into the project, work with Middlebury faculty who want to incorporate this project as part of their classes and host a edit-a-thon on both the Vermont and Monterey campuses!

If this project sounds interesting to you, join now by contacting Amy Collier (acollier@middlebury.edu)!


Dig Deeper:

“Every flower that blooms had to grow through a whole lot of dirt.”
– Liberty Hide Bailey


Featured Image by Jessica Mulder on Unsplash

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