News & Blog

MMLC’s New Student Employees

By Audrey Valbuena
Student Developers and Copywriters join forces with the MMLC staff to tackle various challenges in the departmental project development bay.

Student developers and copywriters join forces with the full-time staff to tackle various challenges in the departmental project development bay.

The MMLC’s student employees currently occupy positions from lab aide to developer. Some have a knowledge of the equipment and how it runs, while others use their knowledge of coding to develop projects going on within the MMLC. Cecile-Anne Sison, who hires most of the MMLC student employees, explains how the center integrates this youth in the workplace.

“The student employees are the first face for people who need stuff from us, or for people who don’t know who we are and need an information desk,” said Cecile. “The things I’m looking for are personality and punctuality.”

However, the students, more than just being people at a desk, get to know the center and learn how to use and log the equipment.

Student employee Cristabella Wolff shared what intrigued her about the MMLC.

“I walked in and it had a really nice vibe,” said Wolff. “The people sitting here looked happy, and everyone was very friendly.”

Aaron Leon, one of the center’s student developers, shares how his job in the MMLC helps him advance his skill set.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a software developer while also improving the learning experience of other students,” said Leon.

Most of the work study students stay in the MMLC throughout their Northwestern years. Maybe it’s the vibe of the center – it just fits.

“One of the things I look at when hiring is ‘Are they slightly weird?’” said Cecile. “Because everyone in our unit is a little weird, so I’m looking to see if they’d be a good fit.”

Five new work study students joined the MMLC team this year. Here’s to being “slightly weird”:

Aaron Leon (Student Developer)

aaronfinalAge: 20
Year/Major: Junior/Computer Science
Hometown: Westmont, IL

Why are you working in the MMLC?
I’m working at the MMLC because it’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a software developer while also improving the learning experience of other students.

What about the MMLC excites you?
The most exciting part about the MMLC to me is the cross-curricular value it adds by bringing interactive technology to humanities departments at Northwestern.

What do you do in your free time?
Outside of class and work, I’m the incoming co-director of the Tech Team for EPIC, Northwestern’s entrepreneurship student group, and the technical cofounder of Womentum, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs around the world. In the rest of my spare time, I enjoy photography, chess and basketball.

Jason Weber (Lab Aide)

jasonfinalAge: 18
Year/Major: Freshman/Economics
Hometown: St. Louis, MO

What about the MMLC excites you?
Having the opportunity to interact with students and technology that I otherwise would not have.

Tell us a little about yourself (aka what do you like to do in your free time?
I stay active, hangout with friends, watch Netflix.

Cristabella Wolff (Lab Aide)

cristabellafinalAge: 18
Year/Major: Freshman/Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Houston, TX

Why are you working in the MMLC?
The first thing that probably got me interested in the MMLC was probably the proximity, because it’s a very convenient location, but I also just walked in and it had a really nice vibe. The people sitting here looked happy, everyone was very friendly.

What about the MMLC excites you?
I just generally like being surrounded by new technology. Everything is very up to date. It definitely adds a good vibe to the atmosphere.

What do you do in your free time?
We are really close to downtown Evanston, so I tend to go out to eat or get bubble tea a lot. I have a lot of homework, so I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m in SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and the other engineering clubs, but it’s not really free time: it’s more academic.

Audrey Valbuena (Communications Aide)

audreyfinalAge: 18
Year/Major: Freshman/Journalism
Hometown: San Dimas, CA

Why are you working in the MMLC?
I saw an open spot for a communications/copy editing position, and since I am a journalism major, I figured that either of these positions would give me some good experience.

What about the MMLC excites you?
The MMLC is exciting because it helps people to build a relationship with technology and the humanities in new ways. This sort of collaboration is unique to the school, and it’s really cool that the MMLC gets to foster this learning.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I coach gymnastics and am part of a Bollywood dance team! I also write for North By Northwestern and enjoy writing for the Science and Tech section.

Sam Arrants (Lab Aide)

sam-actual-finalAge: 19
Year/Major: 2020/Economics/Undecided
Hometown: Melrose, FL

Why are you working in the MMLC?
Because the MMLC is awesome!

What about the MMLC excites you?
For one, it’s a beautiful space to study and just hang out with friends. Lots of really nice computers and a game room (coming soon)! Getting to help students with the equipment needed for their multimedia visions is very rewarding.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a small-town boy, so I’ve been trying to make the most of Evanston and Chicago. Each week has been filled with awesome new experiences, and I hope to continue going on cool adventures. I am a member of the student government’s Sustainability Committee and a member of a consulting/investing club. Otherwise, I am re-watching 30 Rock or napping on the Lakefill.


(You can get familiar with the whole MMLC team on the “People” page).

MMLC Welcomes Visitors to Open House

By Audrey Valbuena
PC: Nate Bartlett, NUAMPS

With the start of a new year comes the advent of new technology, or in the case of the MMLC, new facilities. The MMLC recently held an open house, debuting its range of technology and new collaborative spaces. With nearly 100 people in attendance, the MMLC staff welcomed faculty from varying departments, some MMLC student alumni and the Dean of Weinberg himself, Adrian Randolph, to explore its new space in Kresge Hall.

Interior of MMLC Lab, with computer workstations visible. Dean Andrian Randolph is standing addressing standing faculty and staff guests

Weinberg Dean Adrian Randolph addresses the crowd of open house attendees. (Photo: Nate Bartlett, NUAMPS)

“We don’t always offer an open house every year, but this was arguably the best one we’ve ever had,” said MMLC IT Director Matt Taylor. “There was so much novelty to show off. There’s a new building, new concepts, new spaces, new ideas, and new opportunities.”

Franziska Lys of the Department of German joins others in exploring the newly opened MMLC offices. (Photo: Nate Bartlett, NUAMPS)

Staff and faculty were given the opportunity to explore the space at will, with the added bonus of food and drink, and even a fun photobooth to enhance the experience.

“The open house is really useful from a practical standpoint, showcasing all the classrooms and all the equipment that we have,” shared Matt. “They go toe-in-toe with every other classroom in Kresge, but then go beyond in some ways, with 4K video projection and video-conferencing for Skype.”

The technological capabilities of these classrooms proves to greatly enhance and diversify the ways in which academic thought can take place. The video-conferencing capabilities are expected to be used to conduct class across two languages, in collaboration with classrooms abroad. Another collaboration suite, geared towards relaxed discussion and gaming, hopes to give students the opportunity to “look at games as an intellectual medium” and also to engage them in news ways – as with a prospective program to learn Japanese characters through the use of an Xbox Kinect Sensor.

A wide variety of reservable equipment on display at the Open House included cameras, lighting equipment, and rig kits for smartphones. (Photo: Nate Bartlett, NUAMPS)

“For the last several years we’ve been spread out all around campus and off campus and now we’re in the same building [as the faculty], which has already started to build more of a community with all of us,” said MMLC’s Services Coordinator Sarah Klusak. “It’s easier for everybody to access our spaces, which is really great. All of the new spaces are really nice, high-tech, and very exciting. I’ve only gotten positive feedback from everyone so far, so that’s really encouraging.”

The door of the MMLC is open to all who wish to use it. With its close proximity to the faculty of Kresge, as well as University and Harris Hall, the staff of the MMLC, are excited for the innovation that lays ahead.

An MMLC work-study employee demonstrates the gaming features of the MMLC Collaboration Suite to Andy Rivers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. (Photo: Nate Bartlett, NUAMPS)

“Our new spaces might open the door for a number of faculty ideas,” said Matt. “The biggest opportunity is to be back surrounded by peer faculty. We may see an increase in the kinds of digital scholarship that is starting to take hold.”

As the center launches into the quarter, there are high hopes for the academic capabilities available in using and innovating with the MMLC’s new and improved facilities.

For more pictures, please check out our gallery on Facebook:
MMLC Open House Photo Gallery
(be sure to ‘Like’ us and follow us for more updates!)

Excitement About our Move

By Matthew Taylor

As the Spring 2016 term closes, we celebrate another great year of creative and scholarly pursuits by our team, the faculty who call upon us, and, most of all, the students whose classes and projects often take shape in our labs and studios, including:

  • Developing a virtual walking tour of Ancient Rome in Chicagoincluding in-depth video explorations of various sites
  • Learning how to research and author online maps to chart Shakespeare’s Circuits around the globe
  • Honing skills to ‘write’ audio essays, including one on Tom Dooley which won the History Department’s annual Joseph Barton Essay Award
  • Adding 84 new entries to the WildWords dictionary
  • Taking one of the 1,965 online language placement tests processed this year
  • Being in a group of 597 fellow students who perfected and evaluated their language pronunciation using DiLL in our computer classrooms

These experiences are part of the momentum we carry forward as we look ahead to our return to Kresge Hall. There, we will kick off the 2016-2017 academic year with great excitement in a brand-new space, once again strategically placed at the heart of language instruction and Humanities education in Weinberg College.


An early rendering of the main activity space, including enclosed collaboration suites.


Our new Space: an Overview

Building on our existing portfolio of services, we expect our new space to facilitate new interactions and connections, offer more robust capacity for multimedia creation, and encourage exploration of new models for teaching and learning. From our main activity space on the second floor of Kresge, we will offer:

  • Equipment Checkout Counter
  • Independent Learning Carrels
  • A Project Nook (eventually offering makerspace tools)
  • Collaboration Booths for small group activities
  • Collaboration Suites for enclosed group activities (tutuoring, project work, etc.)

We’ve recognized the importance of rooms that can offer increased sound isolation and access to studio recording tools and, down the hall, we will have new studio spaces that can be reserved for use by specific courses:

  • 2 Digital Media Editing Suites (1-2 people)
  • 1 Larger Editing Studio (small groups)

Our laboratory classrooms have also received a significant technology boost, each boasting high-definition, high-fidelity 4K projection and presentation capabilities, attention to sound and acoustics, as well as video conferencing equipment that permits outside audiences to participate in the local classroom discussion. Both classrooms will enable digitally-enhanced pedagogies, but with a slightly different focus and layout:

  • A digitally augmented structured classroom — suitable for many language and evaluative activities
  • A content-creation classroom — powerful tools at every seat, space for faculty to circulate and guide, and space to collect for group critique and review.

Interim Summer Operations

Getting ready for our new space requires significant preparation and, as such, we will follow a significantly reduced operating schedule for Summer Session before closing completely on August 13. As we schedule the breakdown of our existing equipment and classroom spaces, we will continue to work directly with each summer program faculty member to ensure that needs are met.

October Open House — Save the Date!

In celebration of our “homecoming” to Kresge, we plan to host a multi-day open house event spanning Thursday, October 13, and Friday, October 14, just prior to Northwestern’s official homecoming week.  On Thursday afternoon, we will open up our spaces to offer  a special sneak-peak those who might not be able to make the more formal Friday afternoon event.  Stay tuned for additional details!

Putting IT To Use: One Button Studio

By Cecile-Anne Sison

Since the MMLC has been in the Library, we’ve really been taking advantage of our proximity to our peers. I thought I would start a blog series called “Putting IT To Use” about how a language professor or other Humanists could incorporate some of the new (or at least new to you!) technology Northwestern has.

IMG_2969First up is the One Button Studio (OBS), which is similar to the Lightboard studio in practice.  A lot of units will most likely talk about these two studios in terms of how you can shoot segments to use in MOOCs or flipping/blending/hybridizing your courses. And they’d be right! It’s easy to use – all you need is a thumbdrive (oh and BTDubs did you know the MMLC has thumbdrives available for check out?) to save your recordings onto.

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Humanities and Computer Science — What?

By Matthew Taylor

It’s holiday time. Time for big dinners, friends, family, and cheer. At the dinner table there might be those half-interested questions of “What do you do?” or “How is your work going?” This month, after attending the 10th annual Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science (DHCS), followed by an exciting talk by Mark Guzdial on how to boost society’s computer literacy, my response will be energetic and as clear as Ralph Parker asking Santa for a Red Ryder BB rifle : “Work has never been better! Increased access to tools and digital literacy are critical to scholarship and instruction of the humanities, and I’m happy to be a part of it!”

But it’s never that easy.

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DemoCats I – Sylvie, Mochi, Kuma and Luna

By Cecile-Anne Sison


In what will hopefully become a recurring feature for the MMLC blog, our pet cats (and our colleagues’ pet cats) test out the equipment that the MMLC has available for checkout. If you have a tech-leaning Northwestern-affiliated cat who would like to become part of our team, please feel free to shoot me a message in the comments.


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Students Produce Virtual Walking Tour of Ancient Rome in Chicago

By Matthew Taylor

Students of a recent course taught by Classics Professor Francesca Tataranni titled “Ancient Rome in Chicago” have completed an impressive virtual walking tour that explores how the city showcases its engagement with the classical past through its streets, buildings, and monuments.

A student-produced virtual walking tour highlights ways in which the classical world is memorialized in Chicago. The virtual tour uses StoryMapJS from the Northwestern University Knight Lab.

The 300-level research seminar course was designed to allow students to take ownership of their learning through knowledge creation, and to explore the nature of the humanities in the digital age. Full post

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. Full post

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