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Friday Links – October 9, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course – A professor has his students present their work in video format in an online calculus class.

Weekly Web Updates – October 5, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The New England Review website was updated last Thursday with a new design, developed by College Communications. This is a child theme based on the Genesis Theme Framework, which we’ve done an extensive security review on. It will be used to produce other custom WordPress themes including (eventually) a refreshed set of Middlebury-branded themes for use on your sites.

We have set up an application we’re calling “BannerSelect” that creates a nightly cache of Banner data that is used in our Drupal and WordPress sites. For example, lists of donors for the Online Donor Roll or course descriptions shown in the Course Catalog. This removes Banner as a dependency for these applications (though the Course Catalog was already creating its own cache) and will speed them up as well as make managing the web servers a little easier as they will no longer need to know how to connect to Oracle. We’ll be working with areas that rely on these applications to ensure they’re tested and working with the new system.


Fixes and Tweaks

  • When a piece of content on any of our Drupal sites appears on multiple pages, links to it will always go to the current page if you’re already on the current page. This mostly applied to pages with lists of profiles and lists of news stories. If you are viewing a list of faculty profiles on a department site and click on one of them, you should now always stay on that department site, rather than sometimes jumping to a different department in which that person also teaches.
  • We have disabled a redundant scheduled task that was causing slowness in the Course Hub application. This should slightly improve performance of all of our Drupal-based websites.
  • Information about commons association and advisors for students displayed in Course Hub Rosters is now stored in a local database (using the BannerSelect application mentioned above) and refreshed nightly from Banner, rather than being read directly from Banner.
  • The Study Abroad and Language Schools navigation elements will now appear properly as 36px high in all browsers.
  • When we upgraded the Drupal modernizr module this week, we took the opportunity to pare down the list of tests that the JavaScript file runs for older browsers. This shouldn’t affect anyone on the Middlebury campus, as most people should be using a modern version of each browser now, but this should mean a slight performance increase for people using Internet Explorer 7-9.

Friday Links – October 2, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
 Image: Erin Carson/TechRepublic

Image: Erin Carson/TechRepublic

Smithsonian Innovation Festival: 10 projects changing humanity’s future

The second annual Innovation Festival at the American History Museum in Washington, DC showcased some of today’s the boldest and most practical thinking.

Google Analytics for Higher Education Workshop on October 28, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’ll be hosting a workshop to discuss how you can use Google Analytics to get information about and improve the Middlebury website. You can sign up for the workshop on Wednesday October 28 from 1:00-2:30pm in MBH 161. Registration is limited to 10 persons to ensure there will be adequate time to answer your individual questions.

If you want to attend this session and don’t already have access to Google Analytics, please submit a Helpdesk ticket for “Software & Web Tools – Goolge Analytics Question” so that I can make sure you’re set up prior to the session.

Description: We can give you access to our Google Analytics reports so that you can look at traffic patterns for your website, but in order to get the most from this tool, you’ll need to do a bit of set up work and understand the basics of the platform. If you do not yet have a Google Analytics account, please indicate this in your sign-up.

What we’ll cover: Google Analytics tips & tricks, what number you should care about, search engine optimization, and getting your account set up.

What we won’t cover: Goals, conversions, AdWords, and on page events.

Format: The workshop will last an hour with additional time for questions and discussion, as needed.

More information about LIS workshops is available at go/lisworkshops.

Middlebury Security Alert for iOS Users

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Middlebury ITS Information Security is currently investigating indications that members of the Middlebury community are using iOS apps infected with the recently discovered XCodeGhost malware.

XCodeGhost-infected apps can potentially steal private information and even launch phony authentication dialogues that can be used to attempt to steal usernames and passwords. Despite this capability, no information has yet come to light indicating that the infected apps were used for malicious purposes, such as harvesting personally identifiable information or stealing passwords

The majority of the XCodeGhost-infected apps were authored by Chinese developers who were tricked into downloading fake Apple development libraries. Therefore, the greatest impact of the XCodeGhost appears to be in China.  Some apps have been identified, however, that have world-wide use, including WeChat, Baidu, and others.

If you have an iOS device, our recommendation is that you remove from the device any apps known to be compromised with XCodeGhost. Download and reinstall the app from the Apple App Store once a fixed version has been made available.

A list of known bad apps can be found here: http://www.apple.com/cn/xcodeghost/#english

Additional details on XCodeGhost can be found here: https://labs.opendns.com/2015/09/21/xcodeghost-materializes/

Questions regarding this security alert may be directed to infosec@middlebury.edu.

Wilson Media Lab – Summer Stats

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’ve finished tabulating the usage counts for the Wilson Media Lab which can be found in the Piktochart below or here. Some interesting differences from last year’s summer session include:

  • An increase in requests for help from 11% in 2014 to 33% of users in 2015.
  • We are also seeing an increase in graphics and video usage and a decrease in text usage

If you haven’t visited the newly redesigned Wilson Media Lab we encourage you to do so!

Weekly Web Updates – September 28, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

New Features

We are now using the “Monster Menus Field Permissions” module in production on the Middlebury Drupal site. This module allows us to define not only who can edit a type of content, but who can edit a field within that type of content. Right now this is being used for a custom tag field that will only apply to one area of our site, but it is a feature that we see as potentially useful in other areas.

We reviewed a couple of options to integrate accessibility checks into the WYSIWYG editor in Drupal, but neither seemed as easy to use as the SiteImprove accessibility reports. If you’re unfamiliar with this tool, you can review their video tutorials. Lynda.com also has helpful courses on Foundations of UX: Accessibility, Improving SEO Using Accessibility Techniques, Creating Accessible PDFs, and Creating Accessible MS Office Documents.


Tweaks and Fixes

  • The width of the header of LinkedIn profiles shown by the WordPress Social Media Badge Widget will now match the width of the badge.
  • The “description” field on Drupal webforms will no longer be shown both above and below the field when the “select or other” option is used.
  • The header of the Drupal Language Schools site has changed to replace the link for the Centennial with a link to the Language Pledge.
  • The Course Hub now displays its 404 pages without error.
  • Images in content on the Middlebury Drupal site will now include “float-left” or “float-right” as classes if they’ve been aligned to one side of the content. Additionally, videos on all Drupal sites will be wrapped in an extra element with a “video-filter” class applied to it. These changes will help ensure that these items resize appropriately when viewed at different resolutions when we add responsive stylesheets.