My guest blogger today is Taylor Shepard ’12. Taylor has served as SGA press secretary, working closely with many campus groups and LIS to improve communication on campus. She has some interesting observations about the way we get information out and what might be holding people back from changing old patterns. We would love to hear what you think about this topic. Please weigh in with your comments.
—Shirley M. Collado
Although globalization began as an economic phenomenon, it has affected virtually all aspects of modern-day life and has precipitated unimaginable innovations and advancements in the area of communication. Our world is now dominated by technology; we become effectively paralyzed without it. It is undeniable that the advances in communication technology have increased the spread of information; but has it made us any more informed?
The avenues in which we disseminate information have drastically changed. Bulletin boards have been rendered ineffective, and the need for a centralized digital platform of information is crucial. As a generation that consumes the majority of its information through digital media, it is imperative that the college community maintains impetus.
As the SGA press secretary, it became immediately obvious to me that the college community needed to perfect its communication system. The administration, LIS, SGA, MCAB, and the Events Management office have been working in collaboration to address this issue. After copious complaints of student e-mail inboxes being inundated with “useless and irrelevant” e-mails about College events and issues, LIS and the administration sought to create a solution to streamline the internal communications, voilà—the Portal and MiddNotes modules were born.
In an attempt to effectively and efficiently deliver information digitally, LIS launched the Portal and MiddNotes modules in January. Although these were introduced a few months ago, the majority of people with whom I have conversed have no idea what their functions are. What is the Portal? What is MiddNotes? What is the difference? And why the hell do we have them?
According to the yellow place cards that were on the tables in the dining halls, the Portal is “the online gateway to information you need every day at Middlebury.” In essence, the Portal is a centralized platform that has links to pertinent everyday information in other areas of the Middlebury website, such as the dining hall menus, the athletics scoreboard, the directory, etc. You can even download the Portal on your smartphone, which for me has been revolutionary and incredibly useful, especially when trying to figure out which dining hall to eat at.
The MiddNotes module features news and announcements. MiddNotes was developed to replace all-student e-mails and be the primary avenue for communicating with the entire student body. Although this is distinct from the Events Calendar (which is one of the modules on the Portal), the idea is that any faculty, staff, or student would be able to submit information and news for all students to view.
Aren’t the Portal and MiddNotes exactly what we need? I receive all the daily information I require in one centralized web page. So what is wrong with the Portal and MiddNotes? Why are they failing?
Fundamentally, I believe we are ignorant of their value and worth. We seniors are departing and have little incentive to make sense of them. But it will be of paramount importance to ingrain the use of the Portal and MiddNotes into each incoming class; therefore, I believe that eventually the Portal and MiddNotes will become second nature to students. They have the potential to be extraordinarily effective tools, but until students make sense and good use of these tools, they are rendered useless. I have great faith in these new instruments and believe that ultimately they will prove to be enormously significant support systems.
Do others agree with my optimistic view, that these tools will eventually become effective means of communicating on campus?