General: Orientation in both February and September is run, in part, by CCAL (JJ Boggs). There are five commons, each with unique personality and work processes. This report represents all five commons.

Orientation Requirements:

  • Constant Update: the orientation website is unique in that information changes almost daily, especially in the several weeks prior to Orientation which takes place in September and February. That said, the authors of these updates are far and wide since Orientation brings in many areas of the College. It is essential to both have a "working space" for information updates and then a one-click solution to immediately reflect those changes on outward-facing website which is presented to all incoming first-years. Currently, it is far too cumbersome to update the site that often and results in misinformation among first-years who then choose to call in or email.
  • Workflow: The collection of people in charge of Orientation do not have the time or background to necessarily update the website. They have other roles at the College and therefore updating falls to the wayside.
  • AskHiba: It would be nice to have an AskHiba-type (http://askhiba.wordpress.com/) place for first-years to ask questions and receive answers from peers (both upperclassmen and other first-years). This would relieve some of the pressure of calls and emails while still being quite personal. Students should be able (and are likely willing) to run this site. If it's possible, it would be nice to dynamically feed a FAQ from these questions and answers.
  • Facebook: Start "official" Facebook groups for the admitted students (which then turn into first-years). It should be official in that the school or a Middlebury student moderates it, but it should not be moderated by the Orientation committee. Link our pages into this group.
  • Text Online: find a better way to display lots of info in CMS rather than lists and PDFs.
  • Visually Stimulating: better visual appeal and presentation of orientation information. Rollover graphics would be nice.
  • Similar CCAL (Doug Adams) functionality: online forms, payment, ticketing,¬†embedded¬†interactive media, etc. We do need to be able to take reservations and payment on line.¬† Class photos, Bread Loaf accommodations, and more mean that having that capacity would be ideal.

Commons Requirements:

  • FYS and Sophomore Experience: Find ways to support the first-year seminars and sophomore experience as part of the 4/2 Commons System. This could take the form of displaying some of the work from the FYS, as fed up through class blogs or websites. This should not require students to do any more work than they already do -- should be automated in feeding up content to populate some sort of display of the Commons experience
  • Dynamic Bulletin Boards: Commons are often places to post information (for example in weekly "newsletter" type publications that are posted in bathrooms). An online space (message board, wiki, or wall?) for such activity might be nice but must be sure not to compete with other online spaces. If underused, it becomes useless. Some sort of moderation/vetting needs to be in place.
  • Neighborhood: there should be a way of identifying students online (within the Middlebury universe) as from a certain commons.
  • Deans and Faculty Heads: There should be a better way to connect with deans and faculty heads which are the "family" within the Commons. A lot of emails go out from Commons Coordinators that say: "faculty heads have tickets available for these performances" or "the dean reminds you to bundle up because of extra cold weather this week!" These types of announcements are common but finding a way for deans/faculty heads to connect (but also get information from) is important.

Posted by Ryan Kellett on January 30, 2009
Tags: Uncategorized

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