Category Archives: updates

Course Hub

The Curricular Technology Team has proposed an alternative to Segue that has been approved for development.   Based on our analysis of existing course and curricular resources as well as findings from focus groups and surveys, we recognized that no single platform would meet the teaching, learning and research needs of all of the College and its affiliates. Thus we recommended the development of a “course hub” architecture that would enable faculty to create collections of resources for a given course in a single location referred to as a “hub.”

We recommended course hub sites be automatically created for all courses with basic course information such as the course title, description, instructor profile, schedule and location. These sites would include basic functionality for adding additional content such as a syllabus and links with an emphasis on ease of use and simplicity.

These sites would also include links to “connected” platforms allowing users to create additional resources using popular tools such as WordPress and MediaWiki that would be automatically linked back to the hub site.

Next Steps

The Curricular Technology team is now working on evaluating other platforms to connect to the course hub, focusing on learning management systems (LMS) and better tools for online discussion, collaboration, assignment submission and grading.

WordPress and Course Sites

Many faculty have started to use WordPress for course sites.  WordPress is a good choice if you just want to:

  • Share course information with your students
  • Post course announcements
  • Create hierarchically arranged pages
  • Upload files (on larger than 10 MB)
  • Start online discussion
  • Have students upload papers for peer review
  • Blog

Access to WordPress sites can be limited to students in a class (or any other Active Directory group of users). For more information on how to use WordPress for course sites, see:

WordPress @ Middlebury > Using WordPress for Course Sites

Segue and Language Schools

The Language Schools have long been innovative users of technology.  Indeed Segue was initially developed to support the creation of web sites in other languages, particularly less commonly taught languages that use non-Latin characters such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian.  We also designed Segue to support a wide range of language learning resources including images, audio and video and provide a simply way to download these media files to mobile devices such as iPods and iPhones using really simple syndication (RSS).  Finally, we did our best to make it easy to copy sites created in previous semesters for use in the current semester and to assign others, both individuals and groups, roles on any site.

Some of the ways in which the Language Schools have used Segue are documented in our usage analysis (see: Language Learning Resources and Audio Capture).  Language Schools have also made extensive use of Measure, our instance of Moodle, for placement, entrance and exit exams (see: Student Assessment).  As we research alternatives to Segue we will be certain to recommend tools to support these types of usage.

Many Language School faculty have filled out our technology needs survey which has also helped us understand how Language Schools use technology.  In the next couple of weeks the Curricular Technology team will be holding a number of open sessions for any faculty to stop by and describe their particular technology needs and tools that they have used and think would be useful for Middlebury to invest in.

We encourage anybody in the Middlebury community to tell us what they need in the following ways:

  • Email us at
  • Vote on existing technology ideas/suggestions or add your own
  • Complete any of our ancillary surveys
  • Comment on any post on this blog

James Morrison on Lecture Capture

The Curricular Technology team organized a number of sessions with faculty innovators to find how they were using technology (see: Presentations by Faculty Innovators).  More recently, the team invited James Morrison, Assistant Professor of Political Science, to do a presentation on how he creates podcasts of his lectures.

Prof. Morrison uses a USB-powered label mic that he plugs into his laptop.  He is currently using GarageBand to record audio.  Typically, he’ll make a copy of a previous lecture podcast to preserve the metadata and intro and outro audio.   When he’s done recording a class lecture, he can then simply update the title, date and description and adjust the positioning of outro audio.  The audio file can then be exported and uploaded to his course site.

Here are links to some of his podcasts:

International Political Economy (Fall 09)
International Politics (Spring 2010)

CTLR Pedagogy Series: Course Management

Shel Sax, the Director of Educational Technology, Mike Roy, the Dean of Library and Information Services (LIS) and myself in my role as the Leader of the Curricular Technology Team, did a presentation on the Segue from Segue project at a Center for Teaching, Learning and Research (CTLR) Pedagogy Series workshop on “Course Management: Where We Are and Where We’re Going.”

Segue from Segue

Shel gave an overview of why LIS decided to discontinue development of Segue, explaining that Middlebury no longer

had the resources to continue its development and that there are now many platforms on the market that provide similar features and functionality.

I discussed how we planned to phase out Segue, and our plans to develop migration tools that would allow people to easily migrate their sites to other platforms.  I also discussed how we planned to determine what technologies the Middlebury community needed for teaching, learning and research, describing our usage analysis, focus groups and surveys.

Mike gave an overview of strategies for deciding what kinds of platforms to consider, focusing on “all-in-one” vs “best-of-breed” platforms.

All of us then presented various platforms that are being considered as alternatives to Segue including:

Course Hub

I wrapped up the workshop with a description of the Curricular Technology team’s current proposal, that of a “course hub.”  Essentially, the course hub as we envision it, would be a course site that is automatically created for all courses with basic course information such as course title, description, instructor, schedule and location.

This basic course hub site would also include a very simple user interface (UI) for adding a syllabus and/or additional pages.  We would then add to this hub a simple UI for creating additional resources in other platforms such as WordPress, Moodle, MediaWiki or Google Sites.  This UI would initiate a web service that would create the resource in the “connected” platform and create a link to that resource, as well as a feed of its recent activity.

The reaction of faculty participating in this workshop was quite positive.  Many felt the course hub idea providing a simple way for any faculty to ensure a web presence for their course while also allowing them a number of options for adding additional resources.

Presentations by Faculty Innovators

The Curricular Technology team in its review of course and curricular sites has identified a number of faculty who have been particularly innovative in their use of technology. The team has had informal conversations with many of these faculty but wanted to try to bring at least some of them together to show us how they are using technology and to tell us what they need. So the team organized a session last week and invited five faculty members to present their work and discuss their needs. Based on these presentations we have identified some of the functional requirements for innovators.

Chemistry course site in Facebook (Jeff Byers)

Carrie MacFarlane interviewed Prof. Byers last summer and documented his use of Facebook for large lecture courses on the Teaching with Technology blog. Prof. Byers is generally skeptical of “course management systems.” He certainly doesn’t think of himself as the “course manager” and he sees more value in students learning by collaboration rather then coming to him with all their questions. He chose Facebook because students were already familiar with it and were comfortable using it for sharing.

Inter-institutional Collaboration (Hector Vila)

Prof. Vila discussed his use of Segue for teaching Midd students how to teach writing to high school students. Because of the need to ensure the privacy of student-created content and also provide Midd students access to the work of high school students they were mentoring, clearly defined access control was critical. Segue did a reasonably good job of this, though defining the roles for students was a time consuming process. Also challenging was setting up and managing user accounts for students from two different high schools.

Student Video Assignments (Enrique Garcia)

Prof. Garcia requires his students to make videos as a way to practice their Spanish and hear themselves speaking. He allows his students to chose the topics for their videos and teaches them how to edit their work with iMovie. Generally he has found that his students enjoy making these videos and that the work seems to engage them and keeps them using the language more.

Prof. Garcia has distributed some of this work on YouTube but would prefer a service such as MiddMedia so that he could upload longer and higher quality student videos and be able to better control access. While Prof. Garcia has taught students how to edit videos himself, he would appreciate more support for this.

Internet Art (Hope Tucker)

Prof. Tucker teaches a course on internet art in which she introduces students to a wide range of technologies including twitter, social bookmarking and wikis. Like Prof. Vila , access control is important for this work because students are more expressive and experimental when they know access to their work is limited to the class.

Prof. Tucker has found that having MediaWiki sites restricted to her class to be particularly useful. These sites enable her students to collaborate on projects and MediaWiki’s history display allows her to track all the contributions to a given project by individual students so she is able assess their work. MediaWiki also provides a space for students to refine their work before later posting to Wikipedia.

For her Internet Art class, Prof. Tucker requires her students to “create a work that investigates emergent forms of media.” For this project, she teaches her students how to create basic web sites using Adobe Dreamweaver because it is particularly important for her course that her students be able to create their own design. That said, Prof. Tucker would consider letting students use content management systems such as WordPress, Segue or MediaWiki if students could edit the CSS of the template files for these platforms.

Web -based Audio Recording (Roberto Veguez)

Prof. Veguez noted a significant shortcoming in our current technology offerings. In the past, the Sunderland Language Center had a number of booths where students could listen to audio recordings on audio cassettes and record themselves saying what they heard and then be able to compare their pronunciation with what they heard. These language booths are no longer available and we do not have adequate replacement for them.

Students can record themselves using tools like Audacity. However setting Audacity up in a way that allows them to easily record themselves repeating language they hear from a website is a bit more challenging. Some sort of web-based audio recording tool that could be placed on the same page as the audio file they are listening to could make exercise much easier.

Other language faculty have expressed interest in web-based audio recording tools for assignments and assessment. Currently students do audio assignments using tools like Audacity to record and save audio files. However to then submit these recordings for assignments requires uploading the audio file to the course website or emailing to their instructor. Having a web-based recording tool means that students could access the assignment description on the course site and then record themselves from the same page and have that recording automatically saved to the site eliminating the need to upload it. Web-based recording tools would also be very useful for oral proficiency exams.

Tell Us What You Need

The Curricular Technology team has started a Google Moderator site to gather ideas about curricular technnology needs at Middlebury, see:

Curricular Technology Suggestions/Ideas

Anyone can vote on existing ideas or suggest new ones. This is an opportunity for you to tell us what you need or tell us what ideas/suggestions you think are good by voting on the site.  We’ve put up a few ideas based on what we think are the Functional Requirements for Segue Replacements.

Alternatively, you can also email us your ideas for “must have” or desired features of curricular technology platforms/applications ( Let us know too, if you’d like an interview with a team member to present your ideas or discuss a particular set of functional requirements.

Ancillary Surveys

In addition to the general curricular technology needs survey that will be sent to all faculty, we invite you to fill out the following surveys.  These supplementary surveys ask more in depth question about particular topics.

Online Grading and Assessment

A number of courses and programs of study have used Measure to create online quizzes and exams. A number of focus group participants expressed interest in online assessment and grading.  This survey asks more in depth questions on this topic

Support, Documentation and Dissemination

This short survey has questions about how best to document, support and disseminate curricular technologies.

Audio Technologies

This survey has questions related to recording audio for courses including:

  • creating lecture podcasts (i.e. audio recordings of your lectures)
  • creating audio resources for your students
  • requiring your students to submit audio recordings for assignments.

Video Technologies

This survey has similar questions as the Audio Technologies survey, but is focussed on video