Category Archives: About Us


Revolutionizing work in just an hour a week

If you get on the 101 north and drive for about an hour and a half, you’ll find yourself in the quaint little town of Mountain View, California, home of a little internet company called Google – maybe you’ve heard of them. Undoubtedly, Google redefined how we use the internet, but they also redefined how employees spend their time while at work. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to foster a culture of creative innovation, where employees felt empowered to work on projects of personal interest. The result: Google’s famed (and unofficial) policy encouraging employees to dedicate a percentage of their work week on projects not directly related to their to-do lists. Although some rumor that Google has abandoned its once avant-garde policy, companies and organizations the world over have adopted, en masse, the innovative apparatus that brought us things like Google News, AdSense, and even Gmail.

Here in Monterey, in our eternal quest to redefine the bounds of collaborative learning and innovation, the Center of Concentrated Awesomeness (also known as the Digital Learning Commons to the uninitiated) has implemented its own “10% Time.” Inspired by the book, “The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for future-ready innovation“, DLC graduate assistants are spending an hour a week mobilizing their passions and creativity to benefit not only themselves and the Commons, but also the wider MIIS community. Staff hope that the still inchoate project will promote increased learner agency and provide unique opportunities for learning.

Some projects included in the 10% time this semester include: Developing a culture of storytelling across the MIIS community, increasing personal knowledge of unfamiliar software, promoting awareness of digital privacy policies, and facilitating the optimization of collaborative learning in the Design Space.

If you’re interested in learning more about our projects, stop by the DLC and ask us about how we’re spending our “10% time!”



Dear Prospective DLC GA

I’m going to keep this brief.

Writing to you now on the last day of work in the DLC, I can honestly say that I loved working here. The draw was immediate, the fit just clicked, and the whole experience was a long and vibrant joy ride of working hard and loving the outcomes. To catalog it all is difficult so I made a short video to share some the highlights. You can check it out below.

If you don’t feel like watching the video, just know that I got involved in the DLC by crashing team meetings. I wouldn’t suggest you do the same, but every DLC GA has their story. From crashing meetings to the first open mic night some friends and I put on in the D-Space, the match was made. On the first day of the Spring of 2015, I walked into the office and told the permanent staff members I was interested in working for them. I was told, “Your persistence will be rewarded.” Within a week I was being interviewed for the position, during which time I was asked, “What is it that you want to do here?” To which I replied, “I want to run MIIS Radio.”

Within a few weeks I was interviewing professors and students, recording audio in weird places and reproducing it online in the Radio Forum. I soon nabbed the position of host of TEDxMonterey 2014, for which I will always be thankful of the DLC and the folks who put me in contact (that means you too Katie Brown!) After TEDx things slowed down and I continued working as a GA into the summer. But we didn’t pick computers and passwords at first. We picked up hammers and paint and heavy objects that we either moved around the space, up and down the stairs, or out of the space entirely. It was prototype time while the students were away – we installed colorful dry erase boards downstairs, sound proofing in the booths, and even built the campfire table in the center of the upstairs space. The Spring 2014 semester and the summer working in the DLC marked two periods which I care to call the experimenting and bonding phases. This is where I really got to know my supervisors and myself. (You’re going to want to click that link!)

In the Fall of 2014 I became a more reliable senior of the space. People had come and gone and the space was transitioning into a service sector. We got the new appointment system and people were coming to us with specific requests – not just on a whim because the DLC was the place to be. For a little while it became very un-fun, but at the same time, the campus came to depend on us for a very niche service for the first time since the office had moved across campus. I was grateful to be there nonetheless. And just because something is un-fun doesn’t mean it isn’t important, for which I am also grateful.

I really started to appreciate being a GA at the DLC in my final semester – of course, as there had been nearly a million other things to do and prepare for. This last semester was marked by the sentiment of trying to exit gracefully. I became well studied and well versed in the motions of customer support and in particular for audio and video editing, which became my specialty alongside web design. I executed some elaborate needs assessments, some funky workshops, countless appointments, and even a great addition to the first ever MIIS Happening, which all in all made me feel really good about my time here. The new GAs had no reason to look up to me, but it felt good to share with them where the DLC had been before and how special their positions were, always offering a helping hand whenever possible.

Now, in the last few days of my on-campus MIIS career, I only have left to say that I loved it it here and if I could do it all over again I would. Not really, but you’ll get what I mean as your time goes on here.

Peace to the place and the people and the grace

that never ceases to amaze or continually elevate.


DLC Desktop Spring 2015

Spring Cleaning!

Last chance to keep your Spring 2015 files!

It’s the end of the semester, and the DLC is getting ready to clear our computers of the various files that have accumulated during the semester. If you have saved any files on the DLC computers (this includes recording booths!) please come retrieve those files soon.

The computers will be wiped on May 29th, 2015.


You helped us help you

This past Tuesday from 12-2 the DLC had a table set up on Samson Patio, accompanied by a mobile white board. We were staging an event to assess the needs of the student body in the final weeks of the Spring Semester. We wrote on the board:

Come have your needs assessed!

How can the DLC help you succeed in the last 4 weeks of the semester?

I need to be able to:

Use   |    Make   |   Manage

And at least 25 of you all gave us your detailed opinions about how we could help you to succeed in the last 4 weeks of class. This is what we learned:

  1. Some students demanded that we offer training on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Staff Management software, like Salesforce, Asana, and Basecamp.
  2. Some students are tired of playing the role of technical support to teachers who struggle to use the iLearn platform, and GA positions are springing up to address those needs, but the DLC is assumed to be at fault for that.
  3. Excel training in workshop format will remain in high demand every semester.
  4. Making websites (in e-portfolio/blog format especially), infographics, and digital storytelling methods are coming in increasingly high demand.
  5. Some students love being supported by the DLC in full-class format because they want to be able to learn beside their classmates in DLC workshops.
  6. TLM students continue to request that we teach them how to build apps.
  7. Many of you don’t feel comfortable navigating Apple computers
  8. Some students are under the impression that we in the DLC assume going to Lynda solves problems, but many of you find it intimidating to teach yourselves in that way.

So what are we going to do about it? Some of you will receive a direct email in response to our assessment. Some of you will be best addressed in group format, so keep a look out for a group email. And other needs may take a few more days of prep to be addressed appropriately. We may organize a workshop or two, but we need to have another team meeting on Wednesday first.

More updates coming soon


Website Audit Advice

Hey yall,

GPayne checkin’ in. Recently I met with Evelyn Helminen, Web & Social Media Co-Manager of the DLC, and guru to all things web design. We sat down to chat about my WordPress website, which I began as a course assignment for my IEM degree back in the fall of 2013. It had however, evolved into something much larger over time. In fact, it had evolved so much that it no longer even conveyed the most important messages clearly and effectively. During my internal website audit, Evelyn pointed out some key areas of improvement, so now it’s my turn to share what I’ve learned:

  1. Define your purpose:
    • Website design begins with purpose. If it’s an e-portfolio, make it showcase your talent. If it’s a blog, make it consistently expressive. If it’s built for a business, make it sell. Multipurpose websites are difficult to identify with and tend to turn off the target user, so when you define your purpose, make it clear.
  2. Hone your message:
    • Website design helps to bring your message to the forefront of people’s attention. Think about it, people sit on average 1-2 feet away from their screen. When your message is displayed on the screen in front of the user, be sure that it’s comprehensible. We found that my style of writing in my e-portfolio is a bit too conversational. It works great for this blog post, but for a potential employer, wordiness won’t grant me an interview. So take it from me, be clear!
  3. Design your landing page to be comfortable:
    • Website design is about capturing your audience for as many seconds as possible. If you’ve ever visited a website that didn’t welcome you appropriately, you likely didn’t stay for long. Even spending 4-5 seconds on a page you don’t intend on reading is unlikely, so don’t expect it from anyone else on the internet. Your target user should be welcomed and encouraged to stay on the pages you designate, so make your pages leave lasting impressions.
  4. Make it navigable:
    • Another major turn off to the average user of your website is navigation confusion. Design your links and drop down menus to be easily located, easily read, and linked to the right place. Try displaying less items on your drop down menus for ease of use, or try making your most important links (to PDFs and videos) open up in separate tabs.
  5. Use images and videos to break the canvas:
    • Your website is flat. Get used to it. Flat surfaces are good for skateboarding, but on the internet, generally everyone’s surfaces are flat. Break the surface of your space, and separate yourself from the crowd, with well-placed pictures and videos. Maybe a video tutorial of your website or a talking head is what you need. Just be sure not to overlook the power of colors when breaking the canvas. They’re subtle, but they still help to liven things up.

Of course, there are plenty of other things I learned during my internal audit, but they’re a bit more specific to my needs. I’d be happy to share them with you, but you’re going to have to drop-in or make an appointment ( See you soon!

Todd Cooley

Graduate Assistant: International Environmental Policy and Business Administration, Summer 2013

Greetings folks! I’m a purveyor of nature awareness and gratitude. A believer that making music, a dose of science-fiction, and a splash of hot sauce go a long way in moving me in the right direction. I love to brainstorm and help folks hone their ideas. Let’s talk environment, or any subject you want! Lets build community, integrate all this nutty technology, and laugh heartily all the while! :)

Specialties: Miradi, Natural History, Facilitation, Fun, Idea Generation, Zócalo

Jessy Bradish

Graduate Assistant: Environmental Policy and Business Administration, May 2013

I’m a grad student by day at MIIS, and a standup comic by night. I’m interested in how multimedia and storytelling can help movements and causes create effective messaging. I also work on MIIS Radio, covering local professional conferences and writing features about environmental issues. Come by the DLC any time to find out how technology can help your career!

Specialties: Audacity (audio editing), iMovie, Storyboarding, the environment, fast talking.

Anja Mondragon

Graduate Assistant: International Environmental Policy Student, May 2013

I’m very excited to be working with the Digital Learning Commons. My strengths are in Geographical Information Systems and Geographic Positioning Systems. I have worked in the United States in conservation and in Asia in English Education.

Specialities: GIS, GPS and Miradi.

Eric Morrow

Web Content Developer

I am originally from North Dakota (so come see me and you can say you’ve actually met some one from there). I have a decade of experience as a television reporter and photographer. I am putting those skills to use here at the DLC. I graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

On a personal note, my lovely wife Melanie is a student in the TESOL program at MIIS and we just had our first child in January. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you this year on your video and story needs!

Specialties: Final Cut Pro, Making Videos, Story Writing/Telling, Anything sports related.

Rebecca Walters

New Media Development Specialist

I currently serve as New Media Development Specialist, a fancy job title that basically means I have the privilege of managing and working on social media projects to promote the Institute. I also get to work on fun student-driven projects like MontereySTART (our micro-philanthropy platform), MIIS Radio, and MIIS L10N.

I came to the Monterey Institute in 2007 to pursue a master’s degree Middle East conflict resolution and development and to perfect my Arabic speaking skills. Since then, I’ve become thoroughly distracted (alarmingly so) by my life-long passion for web and social media.

Web Project Management & Design, Blogging, & Social Media.