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IP&T 664 Class Designs Web Site for Church Departments

Julie Burningham, Shelley Keyser, Susan Gong, and Danielle Macfarlane

Many Utahns think of pioneers in images of ox teams, covered wagons and handcarts. Yet the IP&T course taught by Andy Gibbons recently completed a project that emphasizes not only what they did, but who they were: people with extraordinary characteristics and incredible faith.

Aaron Johnson, Julie Burningham, Alyssa Walker, Danielle Macfarlane, Jana Chapman, Jolene Merica, Mary McEwen, Nicky Burgoyne, Shelley Keyser, and Susan Gong designed the project for the Church History Museum and the Church Audio-Visual Department. These clients asked the class to generate a way to extend the geographical coverage of a successful outreach program designed to bring church history and other materials to 4th grade students to help them learn about the pioneer experience. Because of the limited geographical area covered by the program, the Church History Museum sought a way to make it more applicable and accessible to primary-age children and their adult teachers around the globe.

“The problem is that you can’t take real-life artifacts and ship them all over the world,” said Aaron Johnson, a team member. “What we ended up with was a design for a Web site that would allow children to experience real pioneer stories. We tied that in a metaphorical way to life’s journey, and how each of us, in our own way, is a pioneer.” The finished design will help children learn about pioneer history, but it will also help them realize that they themselves have some of the characteristics of pioneers.

This idea eventually formed part of the “backbone” for the design.

The true pioneer stories will give children a glimpse into the everyday lives of pioneers that can be extended into more personal experiences for them. “For each story we developed different activities, such as cooking, writing, drawing, etc.,” Burningham explained. “These activities are available for children and [include] a parent-leader guide to be used for family home evenings, lesson plans, and other activities.” The plan includes instructions for pioneer-era games so that children can experience a few pioneer pastimes.

The design was not intended to be a finished product, but rather a designed model to enable the museum to modify and add content appropriate to its goals and ends. The special features of the design will allow generations of children to benefit from the message according to their own situations and circumstances. New pioneer stories and heritage information can be easily added.

“The clients were ecstatic,” said Gibbons. “Both clients said, ‘this is better than what we had hoped for. It is a more detailed design than we normally get, and is exactly the kind of thing that we wanted.’”

What was most valuable, however, was the experience class members had wrestling with a real-world design problem and all of its stubborn demands as a team. It required many long hours, and every class member confided at some point having asked if it was worth it. Class members first had to learn to speak up and express themselves, how to present their own ideas in the best light, and to defend an unpopular idea. They forged a final design solution from the many great ideas provided by every class member. “For them it was indeed a spiritual of epic, pioneer proportions,” their instructor commented.

15 June 2009