J 902 is a weekly, one-credit graduate colloquium series, sponsored by the UW-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, focusing on issues of classroom teaching for communication-related courses.

All graduate students interested in becoming better teachers, regardless of department or college, are invited to enroll.

Every Friday at noon we'll hear a guest lecture on a different topic, from instructional technology to classroom pedagogy.

Optional readings, resources, and discussion opportunities tied to each week's subject and speaker will be made available online.


This class is graded on a credit/no-credit basis. Students taking the colloquium will be expected to attend at least three-quarters of all the semester's sessions, participate in the online discussion blog, and complete all four written assignments satisfactorily, in order to receive credit.

Readings and resources are available, loosely attached to the theme of each week's talk, but they are not required for participation in the course. All of the readings are downloadable from our class-wide file repository, accessible to any UW student or affiliate with a "net ID."

All sessions are open to the general UW-Madison graduate student population whether you are registered for the course or not.

Special needs

Persons with disabilities are to be fully included in this course. Please let me know if you need any special accommodations to enable you to fully participate. I will try to maintain confidentiality of the information you share with me. To request academic accomodations, please register with the McBurney Disability Resource Center.

Classroom respect

The UW-Madison is committed to creating a dynamic, diverse and welcoming learning environment for all students and has a non-discrimination policy that reflects this philosophy. Disrespectful behaviors or comments addressed towards any group or individual, regardless of race/ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, or any other difference is deemed unacceptable in this class, and will be addressed publicly by the professor.


Q: I thought J 901 was a colloquium introducing new graduate students in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication to different kinds of communication research and professional practice issues.

A: Research, practice, and teaching are all important parts of graduate student training. In the Fall, J 901 focuses on various research traditions, methods, theories, and topics, as well as issues of professional practice. In the Spring, J 902 focuses on various teaching traditions, methods, theories, and topics.

Q: What happened to the comfy orange couches that used to line the west wall of the Nafziger room?

A: The comfy orange couches were deemed a health and style hazard by the current SJMC Director and have been recycled into large piles of toxic orange fuzz.

About the instructor

Greg Downey <gdowney @ wisc.edu> is an Evjue-Bascom Professor in Letters & Science with a 50 percent appointment in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a 50 percent appointment in the School of Library and Information Studies. His teaching and research both center on the history and geography of information and communication technology and the often hidden human labor behind it.

Downey joined the UW faculty in 2001. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in computer science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, an M.A. In liberal studies from Northwestern University, and a joint Ph.D. in history of technology and human geography from the Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Madison, Downey spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geography and the Humanities Institute at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

His industry experience as a computer analyst includes three years at the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago, and three years at Roger Schank's Institute for Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. He has held short-term volunteer positions with both the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago and the Community Information Exchange in Washington D.C. And he used to draw a daily comic strip when he was an undergraduate, believe it or not.

Downey's first book, Telegraph Messenger Boys: Labor, Technology, and Geography, 1850-1950, was published by Routledge in 2002. His second book, Closed captioning: Subtitling, stenography, and the digital convergence of text with television, was published by Johns Hopkins in 2008.