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Sunday, November 23, 2014

100 years of Homecoming celebrations captured in iPad app

The app features more than 200 images chronicling a century of Homecoming at MU.

Before celebrating this year’s Homecoming on Saturday, one can now experience the past 100 years of the tradition all on the 9.7-inch iPad screen.

The project was created by journalism assistant professor Rhonda Prast, Houston Harte Chair in Journalism Mike Jenner and graduate student Caitlin Carter.

"We got funding support from MIZZOU Magazine and the Harte Chair," Prast said. "The Harte Chair is not connected to the Alumni Association. It's part of a larger RJI proposal for app development."

There are bound to be many articles written about the centennial Homecoming, but Prast, Jenner and Carter agreed it would be best to show MU’s history through pictures. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

"We thought it would be a good idea to show the history in a unique way on a platform that is ideal for visuals - the iPad," Prast said.

Carter was in her senior year as an undergraduate at the time she began the project and looked for photos from several archives.

“I began searching the archives at the end of May,” she said. “We continued looking for photos even after we finished our initial edits, up to a few weeks before the app was released. I looked through a few thousand photos before finally selecting the ones featured in the app.”

There are close to 200 images in the app, Carter said. Photos came from the archives of the State Historical Society, University Archives, the Columbia Missourian and MIZZOU Magazine.

The iPad was chosen to act as the platform for the app as opposed to the iPod or iPod touch.

“We should learn to adapt and tell stories on changing platforms,” Jenner said. “I think building an iPad app is one way of doing this.”

Carter compared the app to browsing through a coffee table book.

“For those who don't own an iPad, many of the images will be used in online galleries on VoxMagazine.com as well as MIZZOU Magazine's website,” she said.

Graduate student Chen Yao was the mastermind behind the classic view of the app.

“The color palette is based on the Mizzou colors, gold and black,” Yao said. “Because the photos spread across the century and will be passed on as a memorable signature app I really wanted to create a classic and elegant tone for the app but at the same time infuse the celebration theme with a touch of pizzazz.”

Freshman George Cwiak said he liked the idea behind the project.

“It allows us to view the history in a modern and interactive manner,” he said.

Prast, Jenner and Carter said they were happy with the outcome.

“Rhonda Prast is really the brains behind the project and I was happy to be a part of it,” Jenner said.

The app was made available in the iTunes App Store on Sept. 17.

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