Monmouth College students will soon be collaborating on a cutting-edge program to develop a web app that dynamically presents the history of the Monmouth area.
The $26,000 project will be partially funded by a $10,000 grant awarded to the City of Monmouth by the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund. Monmouth College partnered with the city in preparing the grant application, which was one of only 14 projects funded in the inaugural program. A total of 113 applications were submitted, of which Monmouth was the only municipality to be awarded a grant.
The proposal, to create a Warren County Virtual Museum, was written by City of Monmouth director of community development Paul Schuytema in collaboration with Monmouth College faculty member Bridget Draxler. It calls for a custom-developed web application that will deliver an online museum and exhibit experience to Warren County residents and visitors. MC staff members Lynn Daw and Nick Carlson were also members of the grant application team.
In addition to the college and the city, project partners include the Warren County Historical Society, the Buchanan Center for the Arts, the Warren County Public Library, Frontier Communications and Midwest Bank of Western Illinois.
“The Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund award is truly the tipping point to allow us to make the Warren County Virtual Museum a reality,” said Schuytema. “This project strives to make our past come alive through rich media and broadband content delivery, creating both an exciting regional educational opportunity and a dynamic history resource to enhance citizen participation in the past story and future civic life of our regional communities.”
“This project will be an opportunity for students at Monmouth College to realize the goals of a liberal arts education, collaborating with the community to build something meaningful together,” said Draxler, who coordinates the college’s Communication Across the Curriculum program. “We hope that students will become more invested in the local community, feeling a part of not only Monmouth College, but also the City of Monmouth.”
Draxler said the civic engagement project will provide students with an opportunity to be active citizens, conducting interviews with local residents and exploring local archives. At the same time, they will gain multimedia skills that contribute to 21st century literacies, by gathering, curating, and creating materials for the digital exhibits.
Draxler has experience with community-based undergraduate research, mobile app development and museum curation. She curated an exhibit at the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City on British women writers and is a member of the development team that launched a location-based mobile app featuring Iowa City’s literary figures. Since moving to Monmouth, she has developed a course called “Local Heroes” that asks students to research local civic leaders in Monmouth.
The Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund awarded a total of $500,000 to creative proposals from private, public, and nonprofit organizations seeking to improve education, healthcare, agriculture and other sectors through high-speed internet usage. The awards ranged from $10,000 to $50,000.
“With the help of the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund, we can now create this exciting web application for our region and also share it with communities throughout Illinois, helping them tell their own dynamic stories as well,” concluded Schuytema.