After eight frantic weeks of hard work and unprecedented collaboration across three academic disciplines, Abilene Christian University’s award-winning student newspaper, The Optimist, is now iPad ready.
The first wave of apps available for download from Apple for its iPad – which was released April 3 to the public – includes ACU’s oldest student medium. First published in 1912, The Optimist breaks new ground for university newspapers with a product developed with help from its student and faculty peers in the Department of Art and Design and the School of Information Technology and Computing (SITC).
Work began at a retreat in February, when students and faculty from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) were joined by others to brainstorm about how to develop the newspaper’s presence on the iPad. The Optimist publishes a print edition twice a week, has a Web site and another version designed for reading on mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch.
Drawing inspiration from the culture of innovation on campus created by ACU’s mobile-learning initiative, the three academic departments agreed to work together to design, test and roll out a product that compares favorably to iPad apps developed independently for USA Today, the New York Times and other mainstream print media.
The difference at ACU is that The Optimist app was chiefly a product created by its talented, forward-thinking students.
SITC students transferred what they learned the past two years while developing iPhone apps and applied it to the coding and programming required to build an app for the iPad. Art and design students lent their ideas to what the interface would look like. JMC students, led by Optimist editor Colter Hettich, developed a strategy for how to present the newspaper’s content in a new way.
A story and videos about the development process can be viewed here.