News & Blog

RT) New MMLC social media channels!

By Annette Hong

The MMLC is finally on Facebook and Twitter!

A quick introduction first: I am on the MMLC student staff as the department’s first copywriter in more than 12 years. I write for the blog, but now I also manage the center’s social networking accounts. Back in high school, I wrote and designed for the yearbook, the literary magazine, and the MUN conference magazine. Aside from that, I was also a PR intern at a fashion company this past summer, so I learned a thing or two about getting the word out. I am a fan of tangible media—film, records, old books—and all tools of communication. I suppose this is why people mistake me for a journalism or communications student almost 80% of the time (I am in Weinberg and undecided). I am also a fan of EXO, and trust me, that is very relevant, and I will explain why.

A lot of people who know me personally will know that I dedicate a large portion of my life to EXO. A lot of those same people often shake their head whenever I shove my phone in their faces because I feel the need to make inarticulate noises over someone’s new hair color or whatnot. This is where everything becomes relevant: I find out about magazine features, news articles, what happened at Seoul Fashion Week, all within a couple hours thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am a whole ocean away, but I am seeing, reading, and hearing things almost instantly thanks to the online community.

That is exactly what I want for the MMLC—immediate updates for everyone to see. I figured it’d be nice to communicate with the student body and faculty on more casual platforms on top of the MMLC newsletter and blog. We would tweet or post about relevant news articles, dates for upcoming events and workshops, while also linking to blog updates. We would be bringing all the relevant updates straight to everyone’s timelines and home pages, eliminating the intermediate step of having to open up the newsletter in your email or type in the MMLC blog address in a new tab and navigating from there. Instead of having to juggle multiple platforms in order to stay updated on what is going on in both your social life and around the MMLC, everything would be at your fingertips, ready to be retweeted, favorited, liked, and commented on like any other social media update.


Updated regularly, NU Knight Lab’s Twitter account is an example of what we hope to get going.


Similarly, we would share relevant news articles along with links to our blog posts and important updates concerning the MMLC.

By keeping up with us on Facebook and Twitter, sites you are probably more acquainted with, you would be in control of how you keep track of the information we provide you and how you communicate with us—whether that is by clicking “attending” on an event, retweeting news pieces you would like to read later, or favoriting a tutorial blog post that may come in handy some time. It’s not just about updating everyone in a timely fashion, but about mediating constant conversations and being within reach.


Michigan State University uses a Facebook page to keep everyone updated on what’s going on in the Media and Information department.


MSU creates Facebook events which students and faculty can easily RSVP to and get reminders for.

We promise we’ll be fun, informative, and active. Communication and feedback is crucial to us, so we hope to see you soon!

The Personal, Adaptive, and Sensitive Future of Learning

By Matthew Taylor

So I may be a language technology nerd. But I’m not alone. Each year, some of the geekiest geeks meet at the annual conference of CALICO, the Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium.  This year, Cecile and I attended and occasionally pushed up our glasses as they would slide down the bridges of our noses — as all nerds do — and tried to fit in.

If there was a take-away message that prevailed, it was this: the future of learning will be increasingly personalized, adaptive, and deeply aware of the learner. Just how deeply aware? Perhaps more than we think. The growing prevalence of smartphones, smart watches, and other monitoring devices combined with an emerging interest in big data and data science could spell a future where learning systems can psychologically and physiologically detect and reproduce the conditions under which individual students learn best.

The vision shared at CALICO, even if more focused on language instruction, is nonetheless a harbinger for the rest of the educational field. In a recent EDUCAUSE article written by Learning Initiative Director Malcolm Brown, “Six Trajectories for Digital Technology in Higher Education,” Brown sees the opportunity of mobile devices in a post-digital-divide era, looks forward to open educational resources and learning spaces, and eyes a future for learning analytics. The language nerds at CALICO obsess over these themes constantly as they imagine the future.

The future, it turns out, is not only talked about in abstract far-away presentations. The future is taking place here at Northwestern, too. Full post

Canvas Tips and Tricks

By Sarah Klusak
Yay for a successful Canvas course!

For the last year or so, I’ve been leading a double life (cue exciting spy-movie music).  Oh yes.  Working at the illustrious MMLC is great, but I’ve felt compelled to broaden my mind and explore new educational adventures.  So last Fall I bid adieu to what little free time I had and started taking classes for a Speech Pathology degree. My last five classes were entirely online (both in Blackboard and Canvas), and my experiences have given me some insight as to what works and what doesn’t.  So whether you’re incorporating Canvas into your classroom-based course or teaching entirely online, here are some observations and suggestions to help your students get the most out of your class.

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One Stop for Media Requests

By Annette Hong

Starting this fall, all media requests can be made via a single Course Reserve form that can be found within Canvas. Prior to this change, certain types of requests needed to be sent separately to either the Library or the MMLC, causing confusion.

Through a new streamlined process, completed Course Reserve requests are first sent to the Library, where they are carefully reviewed and then fulfilled by the Library or forwarded to the MMLC based on the keywords and information found in the request.

For every request, streaming video is made available to students through the new Library Media tool within Canvas. This tool is replacing both the old video streaming systems of the Library and the MMLC. Faculty still using older URL links to video and audio items should expect these links to stop working and plan to use the Course Reserve form to request new versions of the items.

A notable difference with the new Library Media tool is that access to the reserve items are made accessible only for the duration of the current course and term. Previously, course reserve links worked indefinitely. Now, each quarter, faculty must explicitly request media items again using the Course Reserve system.
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Don’t Lose It! Move It!

By Mark Schaefer
A blast from the past… the “old” MMLC lab in Kresge Hall with a co-led MMLC - NUIT workshop on migrating content to Canvas…  Vicki Getis from NUIT talks with Penny Fahey (middle) as Katrin Volkner listens.

A blast from the past… the “old” MMLC lab in Kresge Hall with a co-led MMLC/NUIT workshop on migrating content to Canvas… Vicky Getis from NUIT talks with Penny Nichols (middle) as Katrin Volkner listens.

This month, the University’s main course management system, Canvas, will move front and center, and Blackboard will be taken off line at Northwestern at the end of August. The systems will change, but the content inside won’t for NUL services like Course Reserve.

In fact, in changing from working with Blackboard to working with the more modern Canvas, the Course Reserves area has become a one-stop location for all reserved materials, from streaming media clips to full-length films, to books, journals and articles.

Kurt Munson, the University Library librarian who heads up services like Course Reserves, says that the move from Blackboard to Canvas certainly made things easier for faculty and students.  And the Library has been consolidating services for requesting reserve materials and centering the requesting reserves and the delivery of those same materials in the same place: right inside each Canvas course site. Full post

Open Door Archive Launches

By Matthew Taylor

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 11.06.50 AMThe MMLC is pleased to announce the launch of the Open Door Archive, an exciting new digital repository of poetry and print culture in and beyond the United States. The project is led by Northwestern English Professor Harris Feinsod, working with a large collaborative a large team of scholars, poets, librarians, students, and technologists.

Development of The Open Door Archive follows earlier planning and prototyping made possible by the Arthur Vining Davis Digital Humanities Summer Faculty Workshop, co-organized by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, University Library, and the Weinberg College during the summer of 2014.

John Bresland to Serve as Interim Director in 2015-2016

By Matthew Taylor

Starting in September 2015, MMLC Director Katrin Völkner will begin a one-year sabbatical leave in Germany. John Bresland from the Department of English, a frequent MMLC faculty collaborator and leader in the field of video essay, will serve as Interim Faculty Director during Winter and Spring Quarters.

While we wait to welcome John into this exciting new role, I will remain the acting head of the unit. Please continue to email me, Matthew Taylor, via email with any inquiries. I welcome your thoughts and input on the MMLC and look forward to joining everyone for the start of another great academic year.

Technology for n00bs: iMovie

By Sarah Klusak

You may not know this, but I wasn’t always a proud employee of this illustrious institution known as Northwestern University. Oh no!  I actually had quite a crazy 11-year run as the co-owner of a high-end aquarium company up until 2012. Yup, I sold fish tanks. We specialized in saltwater and reef aquariums, and as such, I became an expert of all things marine.

So when my parents treated me to a vacation down in St. Thomas last year for my birthday, I took full advantage of the reef right outside our door. I went snorkeling for hours every day, clutching my trusty GoPro camera and capturing the magic under the waves. It was glorious!  But then I came home and wondered what in the world I was going to do with all this amazing footage. I needed to make a movie, of course!  That meant teaching myself how to use iMovie, the one stop shop for turning your raw videos into thrilling films. It was truly addicting, and I had such a blast arranging my clips that I ended up with THREE movies instead of just one. Do you want to join in the fun?

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