Notes: March 14, 2017

1. WordPress review

Recap recent history of review prep. MIIS has its own instance of WordPress separate from Midd. College. WordPress has grown quite a bit — 1000s of websites in our instance. WordPress has been difficult to keep up-to-date at times in the past; is WordPress sustainable going forward, or should we be looking at other ways to keep it functional? We’ve had the idea that MiddCreate should be part of the solution. MIIS has not been invited into subsequent meetings, but Bob has seen the charter. One thing they’ll be discussing will be creating one instance including MIIS, will MiddCreate be part of that environment? Last time we were talking about WordPress, a lot of time has been spent on supporting WordPress. Is there a way to re-think WordPress/MiddCreate as a blogging/website creation environment?

Some schools have taken the use of WordPress and separated it by use: individual and academic instances. Some have departmental WordPress sites to support projects, and there are some boutique sites with custom programming/theme. These have separate needs, can we separate them out?

It becomes a different conversation if we’re all going to be brought under the same instance. You could bundle functions/use cases in MiddCreate as well. Communications may want to rein in some of these admin uses.

If we’re paying attention to what other schools are doing, why are we not paying attention to how other schools are using domain of one’s own? Not just for personal use, it’s more nimble than that.

In past conversations, we didn’t have domain of one’s own, so it may become part of the conversation going forward.

ITS has not touched MiddCreate; they helped with authentication, security review and contract negotiations, but they haven’t been involved since then, don’t know how they’re supporting it, if they are at all.

2. Canvas Assessment

This was brought up by FLAC (Faculty Library Advisory Committee), they want to know what’s being done with assessing Canvas, looking at differences with Moodle, etc. Looking at any difference to help desk, tickets to Instructure, etc. Two most common questions have to do with assignments (unpublished); and enrollment, which has more to do with Add/Drop process than with Canvas itself. Other than that, not sure what else to assess Canvas on at this point. For undergrad Canvas is supplemental only, so uses of Canvas are varied; without standards, we don’t have anything to assess Canvas on other than tickets and increase in adoption. Canvas is being adopted at a faster rate than Moodle across Fall and Spring terms. It might also be a little early to ask the question. Feedback has been positive, acknowledging that some adjustments have been necessary. Instructure has also been undergoing some changes as they grow as a company.

3. Hypothes.is

Jeremy is going to be on campus in a couple of weeks for a possible workshop.

4. Future meeting agenda items

Joe will put a call out on Slack for future meeting agenda items.

Readings on Conflict, Conversation, and Resolution

book displayMany thanks to the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life for recommending a thoughtful selection of books to help all members of the campus community renew and restore relationships with one another.

Find these books on conflict, conversation and resolution in the atrium of the Davis Family Library. Most of them can be checked out in print or found online in MIDCAT. If you don’t have time right now, that’s okay! Along with the books on display, you’ll find printed copies of the reading list. Take one with you for later.

Readings on Conflict, Conversation, and Resolution

  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Stone, Patton & Heen, 1999
  • The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subjects: A Practical, Hands-On Guide. Schirch & Campt, 2007
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler, 2012
  • The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Lederach, 2003
  • The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding: A Vision and Framework for Peace with Justice. Schirch, 2004
  • The Little Book of Circle Processes: A New/Old Approach to Peacemaking. Pranis, 2005
  • How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable. Elgin, 1997

Weekly Web Updates – March 20, 2017

During the closure of the college due to weather last week we had an opportunity to test out the emergency alert banner on the website, which worked. We’ve added some padding to it to ensure the the messages are easier to read.

Updates

Fixes and Tweaks

  • Added an instruction to the robots.txt file for the Middlebury Drupal site asking search engines not to index the HR job descriptions archive there, since we prefer the version of those items located on the hiring site.

Ongoing Work

  • Creating a new website for the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
  • Building out the configuration of our Omeka, and CAS servers in Chef, which is a configuration management system. We have already completed this work for our Drupal, WordPress, MediaWiki, GO, and the Course Catalog services.
  • Upgrading the Drupal sites for the Davis programs, Dining Menus, and Museum of Art to Drupal 8.
  • Integrating Panopto (streaming videos) and Canvas (LMS).

Notes: Moodle Archving

Guest – Billy Sneed

  • We’re transitioning away from Moodle, but we’re still somewhat reliant on it, even though we’ve migrated to Canvas.
    • We can’t totally turn Moodle off. Need to think thoughtfully about what we still need access to in Moodle and for how long?
    • How do we keep from disrupting policy and practices?
  • Project request was submitted (Billy S. here to speak more to that)
  • What do we still rely on Moodle for?
    • Faculty need to offer course content evidence up to 7 years back, specifically class activity online. They are being evaluated on how they interact with students online and what students get out of the course.
    • No one in the public needs to see any Moodle content, students shouldn’t need access either.
    • Content backups (MIIS). Not student data, just faculty content.
    • We’re still in transition, migration of course sites is not complete. Faculty need to have access to all their Moodle content so they can migrate it over in the future if they need it
    • Tenure review process
    • User access management: tenure review committee and faculty would need access
    • MIIS doesn’t have tenure review, we have contract review.
    • Relatively small group of faculty get reviewed for tenure at Midd.
    • Could we use some sort of non-public archival tool?
  • There are challenges in moving content from Moodle to Canvas.
    • Process strips out user data.
    • We may not be able to do this with future versions of Moodle, either. So even if we maintain a Moodle instance, that may not solve the problem.
  • Why did we decide to have Moodle be a hosted service?
    • We have the resources for this, $ or otherwise
    • What’s the cost benefit analysis of a hosted instance or an internally maintained instance?
    • It was a political decision – maintaining an instance of Moodle for archival purposes would also be a political decision
  • We can’t just export it and keep the data because we need to be able to see how the interaction with students played out
  • Another solution: desktop virtualization system
    • Adjust authentication settings
    • One administrator account
    • If anyone needs to review anything, they can pull up the Moodle instance ONLY via that local computer
    • If there is only one machine and it’s physically located on the College campus, this wouldn’t serve Monterey
  • We need to comply with the policy and keep Moodle pages with student data available for 2 years, the need changes for years 3-7
    • December 2018 is when we’ve told the community Moodle archives will no longer be accessible
    • Beyond that point, Moodle instance does not need to be accessible to more than 2 or 3 people (Joe, Bob, Amy S). Then we can just add people when they need access for review process.
  • We like the idea of a phased approach. One plan for years 1-2 and then emergency/auxiliary access beyond that
    • Not sure, but it will be difficult at best to maintain a piece of software like this on a virtual machine for this extended amount of time
    • Could AWS host this and handle the patches? Is there a way to fire things up in a hosted environment as needed?
  • Moodle is a PHP application
    • That’s a lot of data…
    • This is why promoting services like Panopto/Google Apps is going to be super important going forward
    • Not an obvious win, but could be doable
    • Reticent to commit to 7 years, chances are it’s going to break. The more time, the greater the fragility
    • Can it be kept up to date for 2 years? 7 years? It’s going to break, then what happens?
    • From the web applications side of things, it would be yet another application to maintain, but after initial setup, it won’t need much network. While it’s live, we’ll need to monitor for Moodle security issues that come up and apply patches in a timely manner. Not hard, more of the same, low usage. Probably easier to maintain than most of our other services. Would be a couple days work to get a new VM set up. Then monitoring the mailing list and setting up security patches.
    • How much data are we talking about, storage wise? 590GB
    • Annual maintenance as of 2015 for 1 TB was $1800 – just for storage (licensing, support, maintenance) doesn’t include staff time or other support pieces
  • Immediate needs…
    • We need to make sure we are covered for when the “no” gets vetoed.
    • How can we treat this as an education opportunity? Can we direct faculty make screencaptures of their courses? No administrator actually wants to go digging around in a Moodle page
    • Anyone can install their own Moodle instance on Middcreate
    • Faculty need to be more accountable for their data, but they have an expectation that everything will be available.
    • There needs to be some shift of ownership to faculty who will need this information, but it’s going to be a slow shift. Policy says the data will be accessible for two years, not beyond that.
  • Technology changes – we have no guarantee of what’s going to happen/Canvas’ longevity
  • How do we change the culture? Use these two years (until Dec 2018) to work with faculty to move their Moodle data where they need it to go
    • About 35-50 faculty at Midd
    • To change the culture, we have to constantly keep to policy
    • Ties into the growing need for education around how people interact with and take ownership of their data (digital literacies)
    • A lot of the time, we don’t take threats seriously until we have to
    • Set clear expectations and timeline
    • Communicate with list of relevant faculty
    • We would need to look at faculty over the past 5 years who are going through the tenure process
  • Would still advocate for paying remote learner to host the service through Dec 2018
  • Service availability is what makes things complicated – just downloading and storing static data would not be a problem.
    • Maybe that’s what we do after 2 years? We’ll export and keep the data, but faculty won’t be able to interact with it via a live service
    • In those 2 years, there needs to be good and repetitive communication with faculty about what they might to do to maintain access to the course interaction beyond those 2 years (Moodle hosted on Middcreate, screencapture of course pages, etc)
  • Time frame for moving content out of remote learner to wherever it will go?
    • Our RL contract is up in August – we’d need to have the new location up and ready to go in August – that’s our deadline
    • How long does web team need to make this happen?
      • Theoretically, it would take 1 person 1 week to get things up and running. But, web team is going to be short-staffed and has a substantive project pipeline. Other projects and staffing could make things take much longer.
    • Push for us to reach a decision by April 1 – this is not a joke (Joe)
    • Joe commits to getting the numbers to the group by the end of this week or next week. Joe will work with Billy on the numbers.

 

Notes: Moodle Archving

Guest – Billy Sneed

  • We’re transitioning away from Moodle, but we’re still somewhat reliant on it, even though we’ve migrated to Canvas.
    • We can’t totally turn Moodle off. Need to think thoughtfully about what we still need access to in Moodle and for how long?
    • How do we keep from disrupting policy and practices?
  • Project request was submitted (Billy S. here to speak more to that)
  • What do we still rely on Moodle for?
    • Faculty need to offer course content evidence up to 7 years back, specifically class activity online. They are being evaluated on how they interact with students online and what students get out of the course.
    • No one in the public needs to see any Moodle content, students shouldn’t need access either.
    • Content backups (MIIS). Not student data, just faculty content.
    • We’re still in transition, migration of course sites is not complete. Faculty need to have access to all their Moodle content so they can migrate it over in the future if they need it
    • Tenure review process
    • User access management: tenure review committee and faculty would need access
    • MIIS doesn’t have tenure review, we have contract review.
    • Relatively small group of faculty get reviewed for tenure at Midd.
    • Could we use some sort of non-public archival tool?
  • There are challenges in moving content from Moodle to Canvas.
    • Process strips out user data.
    • We may not be able to do this with future versions of Moodle, either. So even if we maintain a Moodle instance, that may not solve the problem.
  • Why did we decide to have Moodle be a hosted service?
    • We have the resources for this, $ or otherwise
    • What’s the cost benefit analysis of a hosted instance or an internally maintained instance?
    • It was a political decision – maintaining an instance of Moodle for archival purposes would also be a political decision
  • We can’t just export it and keep the data because we need to be able to see how the interaction with students played out
  • Another solution: desktop virtualization system
    • Adjust authentication settings
    • One administrator account
    • If anyone needs to review anything, they can pull up the Moodle instance ONLY via that local computer
    • If there is only one machine and it’s physically located on the College campus, this wouldn’t serve Monterey
  • We need to comply with the policy and keep Moodle pages with student data available for 2 years, the need changes for years 3-7
    • December 2018 is when we’ve told the community Moodle archives will no longer be accessible
    • Beyond that point, Moodle instance does not need to be accessible to more than 2 or 3 people (Joe, Bob, Amy S). Then we can just add people when they need access for review process.
  • We like the idea of a phased approach. One plan for years 1-2 and then emergency/auxiliary access beyond that
    • Not sure, but it will be difficult at best to maintain a piece of software like this on a virtual machine for this extended amount of time
    • Could AWS host this and handle the patches? Is there a way to fire things up in a hosted environment as needed?
  • Moodle is a PHP application
    • That’s a lot of data…
    • This is why promoting services like Panopto/Google Apps is going to be super important going forward
    • Not an obvious win, but could be doable
    • Reticent to commit to 7 years, chances are it’s going to break. The more time, the greater the fragility
    • Can it be kept up to date for 2 years? 7 years? It’s going to break, then what happens?
    • From the web applications side of things, it would be yet another application to maintain, but after initial setup, it won’t need much network. While it’s live, we’ll need to monitor for Moodle security issues that come up and apply patches in a timely manner. Not hard, more of the same, low usage. Probably easier to maintain than most of our other services. Would be a couple days work to get a new VM set up. Then monitoring the mailing list and setting up security patches.
    • How much data are we talking about, storage wise? 590GB
    • Annual maintenance as of 2015 for 1 TB was $1800 – just for storage (licensing, support, maintenance) doesn’t include staff time or other support pieces
  • Immediate needs…
    • We need to make sure we are covered for when the “no” gets vetoed.
    • How can we treat this as an education opportunity? Can we direct faculty make screencaptures of their courses? No administrator actually wants to go digging around in a Moodle page
    • Anyone can install their own Moodle instance on Middcreate
    • Faculty need to be more accountable for their data, but they have an expectation that everything will be available.
    • There needs to be some shift of ownership to faculty who will need this information, but it’s going to be a slow shift. Policy says the data will be accessible for two years, not beyond that.
  • Technology changes – we have no guarantee of what’s going to happen/Canvas’ longevity
  • How do we change the culture? Use these two years (until Dec 2018) to work with faculty to move their Moodle data where they need it to go
    • About 35-50 faculty at Midd
    • To change the culture, we have to constantly keep to policy
    • Ties into the growing need for education around how people interact with and take ownership of their data (digital literacies)
    • A lot of the time, we don’t take threats seriously until we have to
    • Set clear expectations and timeline
    • Communicate with list of relevant faculty
    • We would need to look at faculty over the past 5 years who are going through the tenure process
  • Would still advocate for paying remote learner to host the service through Dec 2018
  • Service availability is what makes things complicated – just downloading and storing static data would not be a problem.
    • Maybe that’s what we do after 2 years? We’ll export and keep the data, but faculty won’t be able to interact with it via a live service
    • In those 2 years, there needs to be good and repetitive communication with faculty about what they might to do to maintain access to the course interaction beyond those 2 years (Moodle hosted on Middcreate, screencapture of course pages, etc)
  • Time frame for moving content out of remote learner to wherever it will go?
    • Our RL contract is up in August – we’d need to have the new location up and ready to go in August – that’s our deadline
    • How long does web team need to make this happen?
      • Theoretically, it would take 1 person 1 week to get things up and running. But, web team is going to be short-staffed and has a substantive project pipeline. Other projects and staffing could make things take much longer.
    • Push for us to reach a decision by April 1 – this is not a joke (Joe)
    • Joe commits to getting the numbers to the group by the end of this week or next week. Joe will work with Billy on the numbers.

 

Weekly Web Updates – March 13, 2017

We believe any Course Hub syncing issues mentioned in last week’s updates have been resolved and set up additional monitoring capabilities in the Course Hub administration interface so the situation can be better monitored going forward.

Updates

Fixes and Tweaks

  • Resolved an issue on the Museum of Art site preventing editors from updating one of the fields.
  • Added additional sanitization of user input on the Online Directory to ensure application security.
  • Applied a change to the Middlebury School of the Environment homepage from our colleagues in Communications & Marketing.

Ongoing Work

  • Creating a new website for the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
  • Building out the configuration of our Omeka, and CAS servers in Chef, which is a configuration management system. We have already completed this work for our Drupal, WordPress, MediaWiki, GO, and the Course Catalog services.
  • Upgrading the Drupal sites for the Davis programs, Dining Menus, and Museum of Art to Drupal 8.
  • Integrating Panopto (streaming videos) and Canvas (LMS).