News & Blog

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

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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[Re-] Visualizing the Novel

By Matthew Taylor

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, is one of the most endearing and best-known novels of all time. Judged a literary masterpiece by many, when it was first published in 1862 by one of France’s greatest literary heroes, the work was met with hostility for political and aesthetic reasons. Yet, the story has been popular, published many times over, translated into several languages, and adapted in recent years to its perhaps most widely familiar forms on the musical stage and cinematic screen.

At Northwestern, the novel is a frequent centerpiece of courses offered by Professor Michal Peled Ginsburg, of the Department of French and Italian. From Spring of 2014, with assistance from both the MMLC and from NUIT, she has worked to boost students’ and scholars’ understanding the novel via two key visualization techniques: first, a series of updated maps to indicate landmarks, event locations and paths traveled, and secondly, a series of insightful computer-generated illustrations of the book’s characters and their relationships to one another. Full post

Get Thee to Canvas!

By Mark Schaefer

Graphic showing 70% adoption rate of CanvasThis graphic from the Canvas Transition team in NUIT shows almost 3/4 of the classes at NU are now using Canvas Learning System for classes

Canvas, the new learning management system for classes at Northwestern, will be the only platform available for class use next academic year.

Already more than 70% of classes have made the switch, and for faculty who have not made the switch from Blackboard there are people from the MMLC, and NUIT, and even Canvas support staff waiting to help you make the transition with workshops, drop-in labs, even online chat available 24/7.

Remember, NUIT will switch off Blackboard for good this summer.

To help you get prepared for the move, we asked four Weinberg faculty to play mentor and guide for a few moments, to encourage colleagues to make the “leap” to Canvas.  We spoke with Denise Meuser from the German department, Raquel Amorim from Spanish and Portuguese, Noriko Taira Yasohama from Asian Languages and Cultures, and Lam-Thao Nguyen from the French and Italian department.  All have taught classes using Canvas this year, and they shared with us advice and tips to help you make the plunge with Canvas.

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To Connect and Serve: Where to go for MMLC Support Services

By Cecile-Anne Sison

mmlcmanexportcameraGood news for you Humanities faculty out there! The MMLC has completed our move to the NU Library and many of you may be wondering where you can go or how you can get the same services you were used to getting in Kresge. The MMLC may be spread out across campus now, but we are committed to supporting you and your students. All of our facilities are open when classes are in session, and among some of our new spaces are:

  • The MMLC Computer Classroom (NU Library Lower Level, Room B183)
  • The MMLC Equipment Checkout Counter (NU Library Lower Level, Room B185). Open Monday-Thursday 8:30am-6:30pm, Friday 8:30am-5pm
  • The MMLC Activity Space (Deering Library Second Floor, Room 208 – shared with the Music Listening Library). Open Monday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 1pm-5pm, Sunday 1pm-10pm.
  • The MMLC Student Project Studio (Locy Hall Room 316)
  • The MMLC Digital Art Computer Lab (Roycemore School B37)

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