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7 Innovative Midd Course Sites in WordPress

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Have you considered using WordPress as a course website, but aren’t sure how it might look? Are you using it already, but curious about new ideas? Here’s a sneak peek at how other Middlebury faculty have been doing it.

Simple Websites
Create a simple website with WordPress by hiding its blog features. Make “Pages” for your content (e.g., syllabus, lecture outlines, and assignment overviews), then from the Settings > Reading menu, change your blog’s front page to a “static page.”

history-american-women
History of American Women (login to view)

Share Course Materials and Announcements
Use WordPress’s blog “Posts” to share timely announcements with your class, and create “Pages” for static content like your syllabus, schedule, and resources that students need often.

modern-chinese-politics
Modern Chinese Politics

Sharing & Publishing Student Work
Publish student work informally on the web, or give students a way to share their work with other members of the class. By elevating students’ role in your site to Contributor or higher (Users > Change Role To…), students can post to the course site themselves. WordPress’s Privacy settings give you control over whether student work is limited to just the class or beyond (Settings > Reading).

political-economy-gmos
Political Ecology of GMOs
Solvitur Ambulando
Middlebury Studio Art

Digital Class Project
An entire class might collaborate to produce an archival and educational resource that lives on well after the course ends. LIS can provide extra support for ambitious projects.

chicago-freedom-movement
Chicago Freedom Movement

Multi-Purpose
WordPress is flexible. Use it for a combination of posting course content, creating interactive opportunities for students, and as a platform to share student work.

inferno
The Keys to Dan Brown’s Inferno

No matter which approach you adopt, your WordPress site can be visible to anyone on the web, limited to Middlebury account holders, or private to just the students in your course.

To create a WordPress site for your course, visit the Course Hub  > Manage Resources > Add a Resource > WordPress and follow the steps. Your LIS liaison is available to discuss ways you might use WordPress, walk you through the process, and provide additional support.

Group support added to WordPress

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We are pleased to announce the addition of a much-awaited feature to our WordPress site network. As of today groups added to sites can automatically maintain their membership over time. Site administrators will no longer have to go back into WordPress and regularly bulk-add groups to grant access to new group members.

In the WordPress Dashboard
When you add users to a WordPress site by group the new default option is to keep the group in sync:

Adding a new group to a site, keeping the group in sync.

Adding a new group to a site.
Note the new “Keep in Sync” option.

All users currently in the group will be added to the site with the role you specified. Members of the group who already have a role with greater abilities will not have their permissions reduced. Members of the group who already have a role with less abilities will be raised to the role specified for the group.

The groups synced are shown in a list and can be removed if desired.

The groups synced are shown in a list and can be removed if desired.

Over time, as people are added to the group, their roles in the site will be updated whenever they log into WordPress. If a person is removed from a group they will have their role in the site removed when they log into WordPress if their role hasn’t been manually changed to a different level.

More details about group-synchronization are available in the LIS Wiki.

In the Course Hub
In tandem with this new feature in the WordPress dashboard, the Course Hub now automatically adds class-groups to WordPress sites when adding WordPress Resources. When you add a WordPress Resource to the Course Hub the screen now includes an option that lets you specify what role to give students in the WordPress site. (Instructors will always be administrators of the site.)

Choose which role to give students in the WordPress site.

Choose which role to give students in the WordPress site.

When you save the WordPress Resource in the Course Hub three class-groups (instructors, students, and audits) are added to WordPress site and kept in sync. Instructors no longer need to do the extra step of going to WordPress and adding the class-groups to the site. As well, new students enrolled during the “Add/Drop Period” will automatically have access to the WordPress site when they log in after their enrollment has processed.

The instructors, students, and audits groups are automatically added to WordPress by the Course Hub.

The instructors, students, and audits groups are automatically added to WordPress by the Course Hub.

If you delete the WordPress Resource from the Course Hub the users and class-groups it added will be removed from the WordPress site, however the site itself will not be deleted automatically.

Friday Links, Feb. 22, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Got MOOCs?  Here are two recent pieces I found interesting:

The first is from Wired: Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going? by Michael Horn and Clayton Christensen.  “We believe they are likely to evolve into a scale business, one that relies on the technology and data backbone of the medium to optimize and individualize learning opportunities for millions of students. This is very different than simply putting a video of a professor lecturing online.”

The second is The Trouble With Online College from the New York Times and takes perhaps a less optimistic view. “Courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed.”

Friday Links, Feb. 22, 2013

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Got MOOCs?  Here are two recent pieces I found interesting:

The first is from Wired: Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going? by Michael Horn and Clayton Christensen.  “We believe they are likely to evolve into a scale business, one that relies on the technology and data backbone of the medium to optimize and individualize learning opportunities for millions of students. This is very different than simply putting a video of a professor lecturing online.”

The second is The Trouble With Online College from the New York Times and takes perhaps a less optimistic view. “Courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed.”

Change Moodle site availability from the Course Hub

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

By default, when you create a Moodle site it is set to be “not available to students” to give you time to add site content before students can access the site.

Unfortunately, the “availability” setting can be a bit hard to find in Moodle settings. To make this important setting easier to change and its current state more visible, you can now set its value from right in the Course Hub when creating or editing the Moodle Resource:

New Course Hub / Middfiles integration

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

New for the Fall 2012 semester is integration between the “Classes Folders” on Middfiles and the Course Hub.

When you put files in the HANDOUTS/ or SHARE/ folders of your class folder, a “Middfiles Class Folder” resource will automatically be added to your Course Hub site. This resource provides a link that allows students to easily browse the files without having to mount a network drive. There is nothing extra you need to do. Read on for more details.

Middfiles is now securely accessible via the web

This summer LIS added WebDAV support to Middfiles, a new feature that allows any Middfiles file or folder to be shared securely via a web-addressable URL. What this means is that you can now put links to files and folders into email, blogs, and websites. When a user clicks on the link they will be prompted to log in before their browser downloads the file. To try it out, go to https://middfiles.middlebury.edu/ and copy-paste a link to a file.

The other benefit of this new feature is that Middfiles can now be easily used as file repository by classes primarily using a blog or Moodle site. If you have large files to share that are too big for the blog or Moodle, just put them in Middfiles and copy-paste the https://middfiles.middlebury.edu/Classes/Fall12/…/… link to the file into the blog or Moodle site.

Course Hub / Middfiles integration

As mentioned above, the Course Hub now automatically creates a “Middfiles Class Folder” resource when you put files in the HANDOUTS/ or SHARE/ sub-folders. This scan happens every few hours, so if you need the resource to appear more quickly, you can add it manually to the Course Hub.

In addition to providing the resource-link in the Course Hub sidebar, the Middfiles Resource provides a detail-view with the class-folder paths needed to map a drive to the class folder on either Windows or OS X. Class Folder PUBLIC_HTML/ sites

While LIS does not actively provide support for building static HTML websites, some instructors choose to build their own HTML websites and serve them out of the PUBLIC_HTML/ sub-folder of the class-folder on Middfiles. If any files are placed in the PUBLIC_HTML/ sub-folder a “Middfiles Public Website” resource will be automatically added to the Course Hub. If files are moved or removed from the PUBLIC_HTML/ sub-folder the resource will automatically be removed.

Aesthetics of the Moving Image

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Louisa Stein is an assistant professor of Film and Media Culture.  In the spring of 2010, I interviewed Prof. Stein about her use of technology in a number of her courses.  Below is a screencast from that interview that describes her use of WordPress and Moodle in a first year seminar course on the “Aesthetics of the Moving Image.”.