Jackie Choi: Writer Extraordinaire, Cafe Julie, and Mark’s Massive Media Life Lectures

The Writings of Jackie Choi

Jackie Choi is a first year MS (design and production) student in the department.  Many know her as a friendly face often seen around the building, but not as an accomplished novelist and non-fiction writer.  In fact, before arriving in Bloomington, Jackie published three novels and two non-fiction books about the cultural trials and tribulations of Korean single women.  According to her, she didn’t mean for any of this to happen.  It began in 2001 when she started an online community for Korean single women to share their stories, daily struggles, and achievements.  “In Korea, there is a lot of pressure to get married.  Even if you are successful in your career, people will not recognize your success.  They assume you are miserable because you do not have a partner at home.”  She therefore created an online community for Korean single women who preferred work over marriage.

What began as a small and intimate online group has since grown to 1,000 members.  Jackie explained, “The numbers began increasing everyday.  I didn’t expect that type of response.”  With her undergraduate education in Korean literature, Jackie already had an established network of colleagues who were publishers and writers.  She first authored a short story in a magazine and then was approached by a publisher to write a full length novel.  After completing her first novel at the age of 24, Jackie saw how important it was for Korean single women to have an advocate and supporter.

That all changed in 2004.  Jackie threw her followers for a loop by getting married.  “It definitely did shock everyone.  They wanted me to stay single until the end of time!  But, over time, they came to accept my marriage.”  Jackie’s husband, Jae Hoon Jeong, is a fellow grad student in the department.  Jackie traveled with him to the States when he began his graduate studies at IU.  Since living in Bloomington, Jackie has been presented with new opportunities to understand single life.  She has gained interest in the lives of local elderly widows and their journey after losing the one they love.  “Women have a fear of growing old alone.  I want to do something to help decrease that fear.”

Jackie is currently enrolled in the documentary production class, where her pitch to create a documentary about two extraordinary elderly widows was selected for production.  It will explore how these women have overcome the death of their husbands to find new meaning in their lives. The premiere takes place later on this Spring at the annual documentary screening in Radio TV 251.

Check out Jackie’s online community here: Cafe

Julie Fox’s Experimental Classroom Experiences

Professor Julie Fox makes changes to the notes on the cafe's smart board.

When Professor Julie Fox heard of a new experimental classroom opening up for classes this semester, she decided to take a chance and teach her T312: Politics and the Media and T471:  Applying Theory to Media Design classes in this innovative space in the new Union Street Residence Center at 10th and Union. The room, officially called the “Collaboration Cafe,” boasts couches, clustered chairs, dining-style booths, and an array of technologies to facilitate generation of richer discussions and interaction in the classroom. The design does works, says Julie, as she is often delighted with a room full of useful conversation and group learning.

Julie first found out about the Collaboration Cafe in an email sent to the faculty calling for proposals late last semester, when the classroom was still being constructed. “We got a notice about the space and the option to teach in it,” explains Julie, “but it wasn’t finished until the week before.” The technological features of the room – a digital copier for the white board, laptop-compatible screens, and a smart board – bring an air of constant engagement into the setting, but not without small slip-ups every now and then. Julie recalls that, especially at the beginning of the semester, she would often

One of the group tables as well as the "VIP lounge" in the corner.

forget to switch on the smart board and therefore the accompanying electronic pen would not write for a few moments until she realized her mistake. “I told the students to get a pool going to take bets on how often I’d forget,” she says. Small glitches aside, the room and its components bring new ways of communicating with students otherwise accustomed to lecture halls. “It creates an environment that says ‘I’m comfortable here,'” Julie explains. “It’s a lot easier to disengage when you’re sitting in the back of an auditorium. I still do discussions when I teach in auditoriums, but it’s harder to mingle and interact.”

One of the seating areas in the cafe that Julie has nicknamed "the diner."

For Julie, the room’s supposed capacity to foster a new cohesiveness among students is yet to be seen.  One of her classes will be presenting large projects in upcoming weeks, and Julie is hopeful that the students will be more confident because of the feeling of connectedness the space generates. “The setup of the room makes them more comfortable talking in front of 50 people because they’re already discussed the same thing with 4,” she says. The room’s seating allows for small group discussions in clusters of comfy chairs as well as in a set of booths (which Julie calls “the diner”) and a semi-circular seating area (dubbed “the VIP lounge” by Julie and her class). “I like to walk around the room and spend time with one or more of the discussion groups,” Julie explains, “and the room is ideal for that.”

In the future, Julie hopes that more rooms like this one will pop up in more places around campus. “It’s nice to physically feel like you’re in a cafe. You feel like you’re in a real place,” she says. Though the Collaboration Cafe is a bit of a hike from her office in the Radio-TV building, the walk, for Julie, is a small price to pay for having access to this space. “Some people like the convenience of the Telecom building for their classes, but to me, it’s worth it.”

Brown Bag Presentation

Professor Mark Deuze gave a most unusual brown bag presentation last week.  You need to read more – see below.

Teaching Massive Classes:  A T101 Media Life Case Study

Abstract:  Systems of higher education worldwide are growing rapidly: programs consolidate, colleges diversify, and class sizes grow. Some speak of the contemporary university as a ‘edufactory’, forcing students into faceless and demeaning massive lecture halls where no serious work or communication can take place.

Teaching large (100+) or massive (400+) student classes is certainly not easy. However, if you find a way to make it work, it can count as highly marketable skill for your academic job application – and empower you to provide meaningful and inspiring answers to what arguably is one of the defining trends at universities and colleges in the US and elsewhere: the massification of higher education.

Over the last five years, faculty and graduate students have transformed T101 Media Life – a University Division course with 420+ students offered every Fall and Spring semester – into a interactive, technologically advanced, theoretically challenging, and altogether fun event.

In this T600 session, T101 Media Life is unpacked and its ‘secrets’ will be revealed. The workshop will seek your thoughts, questions, and input regarding things like:

1. Lectures

– how we take attendance without taking attendance

– how we interact with students in real-time while lecturing at the same time

– how we move beyond media literacy to go deep into media theory without students even knowing it

– how we encourage students to use all their media devices during class and still lecture effectively

– how we record, archive and share all the audio and video used throughout the course.

– how we have almost completely abandoned reading materials in favor of visual storytelling and learning

2. Discussion Sections

– how we have the discussion sections self-organize to add value to the lectures

– how we allow students to make media in order to understand media

– how we co-author a handbook for associate instructors providing a blueprint for each semester

– how we have students collaboratively define every concept of the course in 140 characters or less

3. Assignments and Exams

– how we share the exam questions with students before the semester starts

– how we ask open-ended exam questions and still manage to grade all exams in a single day

– how we make assignments required and optional at the same time

– how we allow students to create their own exams and study guide

– how we get students to forget who they are in order to find themselves in media

4. Grading

– how we have finally abolished any kind of grading in the course

– how we involve students in the evaluation of their own work

Click these links for Mark Deuze’s Brown Bag Podcast and the accompanying presentation on Slideshare.


Nicky Lewis:  The Writings of Jackie Choi

Katie Birge:  Julie Fox’s Experimental Classroom Experiences and Brown Bag

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