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This Week in DLINQ: March 5-9, 2018

Partner with DLINQ this Summer

During the summer, the Office for Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) employs, trains, and mentors students who assist faculty with diverse digital projects. You can view examples of digital projects that students have helped with in the past here. Past projects have included web site building and design, teaching support in the form of educational videos, animations and digital storytelling, and graphic design projects such as creating infographics, posters and post cards.

Whether you are based at the College or at the Institute in Monterey, if you are interested in partnering with DLINQ staff and our student tutor team this summer please submit a project proposal by filling out this form. Project proposals will be reviewed in the coming months by DLINQ staff to assess our capacity to support said projects. We will then be in touch with faculty who have submitted viable proposals towards the end of the spring semester to set up a project consultation meeting and establish connections with student tutors.

In addition, if you would like to recommend a student for a summer DLINQ tutor position, share this link to our current job posting: https://go.middlebury.edu/dmtsummer

The Office of Digital Learning & Inquiry looks forward to hearing from you soon!

Tools & Practices for Securing MiddCreate Sites

Written by Evelyn Helminen

When you install WordPress on MiddCreate (or on your own domain), it doesn’t come with security features already installed. WordPress is a very common Content Management System (CMS), which also makes it interesting to hackers. While there are some simple tips you can follow to start to secure your site, such as using strong passwords and keeping WordPress and Plugins updated, there are other, less obvious ways to “harden” your site to make it more difficult for hackers to exploit or destroy.

The mission of MiddCreate is to provide spaces on the web where students, faculty, and staff can explore and connect their learning and experiment with digital tools. The digital tools for teaching and learning allow for the creation a digital identity that is self-owned and managed. MiddCreate provides subdomain names and web space to members of the Middlebury community, encouraging individuals to explore and develop their digital identities using tools such as WordPress, Omeka, Media Wiki, and Known. MiddCreate supports an individual’s agency in creating their digital identity through processes of reflection, self-expression, and connection to other learners and experts.

Evelyn Helminen, Assistant Director for Digital Initiatives at MIIS (Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey) put together a one-page information sheet with ways to secure your site. Helminen shared this with the DLINQ – Monterey team at their weekly staff meeting. Installing an SSL Certificate on your MiddCreate domain is one suggestion made. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a cryptographic protocol that provides communication security between a website and internet browser. Data transmitted in plain-text form can be easily intercepted, eavesdropped, compromised and even stolen. This extra layer ensures encrypted data transfer. Other suggestions include disable directory browsing and generating new security keys. The document comes with the caveat that you should do your own research before following the steps verbatim, as sometimes the things you do to make your site secure can either break your site, or open you up to additional vulnerabilities. Check out the document here.

DLINQ & the Office of the Provost Across Distance

Written by Bob Cole

Collaborating across distance has become a familiar area of inquiry for the staff of DLINQ who rely daily on team members located on opposite sides of the country and who work on partner projects with Middlebury community members around the globe. Amy Collier writes that to be effective in working across distance, we must strive to be more intentional and mindful with our meeting practices. We can do this by examining how the design of our meetings (face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid) might amplify or diminish our desire to be inclusive, cultivate empathy and build trust with our colleagues across distances.

So it was refreshing when DLINQ staff connected on March 2 via Zoom, Middlebury’s web conferencing platform, to participate in the Office of the Provost’s first administrative area meeting of 2018. The focus of the meeting was to review the recent community engagement survey and consider ideas for moving forward to create a more satisfying and engaging work culture. The meeting is notable because it was the first ‘all virtual‘ meeting for the forty plus staff representing the ten cross-functional departments that make up the Provost’s office. Participants joined synchronously via webcam and microphones from offices in Middlebury, Monterey, Washington DC, as well as from home offices, a laptop on a high speed train, and from a mobile phone on the blizzarding streets of New York City!

Interim Provost Jeff Cason and Sheila Cameron from the Office of Organizational Development took great care in the planning and facilitation of the meeting with the goal of increasing engagement and inclusivity across distance. They achieved this by providing meeting read aheads and links to technical support resources, offering to pair staff with buddies who expressed more comfort with digital tools, using screen sharing to present information, text chat for fielding questions, small group interactive break-out discussions, and collecting anonymous notes from the break-outs via a shared Google form. There’s no doubt that virtual meetings are technically more complex than face-to-face or hybrid meetings, but the time and effort we invest by engaging with digital tools and practices like these can lead us to new models for how we might better span our organizational and geographic boundaries.

Learn more about connecting across distance with Zoom.


Featured image by Paul Skorups on Unsplash

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