by Elizabeth Greiwe, SOC website reporter
Today’s society lives on the iPhone in the back pocket of a ratty old pair of jeans. Man and machine is closer than ever.
To help students and faculty explore that ever-expanding intersection of society and technology, Loyola School of Communication opened the Social & Interactive Media Lab on Friday, February 21.
With hunched shoulders and waving arms, some attendees took turns trying to beat a jet ski game on the lab’s X-Box Kinect. Others hunkered down over PCs, trying to complete missions and drive cars.
“It’s something that’s only going to expand,” said Emily Olsen, senior journalism major, who finished last in her jet ski race. “It’s a great resource for students.”
After getting the go-ahead from SOC Dean Donald Heider, professors Florence Chee, Meghan Dougherty, Seung-Chul Yoo and Jamason Chen took the lab from concept to reality.
“We want to bring the humanity back into technology,” said Chee, who acted as emcee for the SIMLab open house.
Many of the lab resources’ focus on video games. Tucked away in a back corner of the SOC building, a large screen monitor stretches across the back wall of the lab, hooked up to an X-Box One below. Gaming and 3D PCs line one wall with dividers between to provide some privacy. A gaming laptop and laser printer were thrown in for good measure.
Video games are at the core of interactive media. They’re the cutting edge of new media, combining hands-on elements with cinematography and dynamic storytelling, Yoo explained.
Even though computers line its walls, a table lies in the heart of the lab, reaching from one end to the other. As Chee stressed, the lab is about both research and discussion.
“It’s not about learning to push a button,” Chee said. “It’s a space we hope to have a lot of conversations about society and technology in.”
To kick off those conversations, University of Michigan Assistant Professor Andre Brock was invited as a guest speaker. One of Brock’s areas of research includes racial identity online.
“This space can help develop some of the technological tact we need to have,” Brock said of the SIMLab. “People don’t think about what they’re doing when they post online.”
There are a number of digital media teachers in the SOC who want to collaborate through interactive media and dynamic storytelling, but students may not rush in right away. The lab is still new, and it may take time to find for students interested in games to wonder in.
“I’ve never thought about games before,” junior journalism major Lydia DeCoud said. “I’ll be interested to see what the lab turns out.”
For now, Yoo said they will focus on drawing faculty and professionals to the space. Graduate students studying digital storytelling will be able to use the lab for discussions and research and may be hired as teaching assistants later. There’s still limited access at this point, however.
“I think this is just a great beginning,” said Yoo.
More Featured Stories
For Loyola junior Lizzie Sextro, this year’s Ignatian Heritage Month will feel a lot different than last year’s. That’s because Sextro spent 10 days in July in El Salvador, where she got a first-hand look at the site of the Salvadoran martyrs’ deaths.
Ignatian Heritage Month kicks off with Loyola’s annual Hunger Week, a series of events from November 3–9 to raise awareness about hunger issues locally, nationally, and globally.
Loyola is honored to host Jon Sobrino, S.J., for an address commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Salvadoran martyrs. Father Sobrino will speak on November 20 at 6 p.m. in Mundelein Auditorium. Registration is required.
The annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics brings together scholars and thinkers to discuss a variety of topics. This year's symposium will feature a keynote address by Anita Sarkeesian, media critic and creator of “Feminist Frequency.”
Huy Nguyen (MBA/MSF ’14) lost his job in the 2008 financial crisis. Then, he watched as other members of his family lost theirs, too. So he came to Quinlan for graduate school—and to learn how to prevent future financial meltdowns.
Loyola psychology professor Grayson Holmbeck has been studying children with spina bifida for more than 20 years. In that time, he says: “We’ve learned a lot about what their problems and issues are, what we can do to help them, and more importantly, what they’re capable of.”
Starting in 2015, Loyola will offer several FASTRACK degree programs for adult learners at its Cuneo Mansion & Gardens in Vernon Hills. Courses will be on alternating Saturdays with an online component—perfect for anyone looking to balance work, life, and school.
Quinlan Professor Nenad Jukić was named Loyola’s Faculty Member of the Year on September 14 as part of the University’s Faculty Convocation. This latest award caps off a string of impressive accolades for Jukić, who also was named Quinlan’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year.
Four Loyola graduate students were recently selected for the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on healthcare-related projects to help underserved communities in Chicago.
Loyola is one of just 283 universities to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a claim that only about 10 percent of the nation’s colleges can make.
Loyola is ranked No. 4 on the Sierra Club’s 2014 list of the greenest colleges in America. The annual rankings are designed to spotlight universities that are deeply committed to environmental responsibility.
Loyola’s Information Commons joins an elite group of peers on Business Insider’s list of the “coolest” college libraries in the country.
The Institute of Environmental Sustainability combines academics and research with agriculture and community living—all in one facility.
The Damen Center was designed from top to bottom with students in mind, making it the center of social life on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.