Emily Chudzik, Staff Writer, a new informational, interactive website for Millikin students and residents of Decatur, was recently launched by the Communication 351 students here at Millikin University. It includes reviews of local businesses and shops close to campus as well as fine arts and sporting events. It was a project conceived in the Social Media Writing course, taught by Professor Michael Braun. “It’s an opportunity for students to practice social media writing in a real world environment. We use blogging and other social medias to promote that,” he said.

Creating a website was one of the goals he had for the class at the beginning of the semester. “I wanted them to try and launch a website and see what we could learn from doing that- and to learn from any potential failures,” explained Braun. They had to ask themselves the questions, “How do we get people to want to come to our site?” and “How do we get them to want to read what we write?” Braun said that it very well may be that people may not want to read what they have to say, and the website could be a flop- but that’s all part of the learning experience.

Junior Communication major Ethan Graue said, “The purpose is to connect the students of Millikin with Millikin and the Decatur area. We want to build up that relationship.” This website is a chance for students to look beyond the Millibubble and see what possibilities lay outside.

“There is stuff going on in Decatur, not just on campus,” Graue said. “For me as an instructor, I want the students to have the opportunity to experience different writing styles and how hard work affects the product we produce. The students managing the website want to give other students opportunities to think about things going on in their community and to get involved. It sounds like a lofty goal when I put it that way, but we want them to see the world outside of the campus.”

The only potential problem? The class is not offered in the spring. It is unclear whether it will continue on outside of the class. “It’s a question we have yet to decide. We’ll see what happens since we won’t have a natural class. It might transform into a student organization. It might be dormant until we write again next fall. Or, come next fall, they might want to create a new website. Millikinect may just be an exciting, semester long project,” Graue said.

Braun claims that it is a good lesson for students to learn. It is a lot of hard work to maintain a website, and they can often outgrow their usefulness. It may be wonderful at the time, but perhaps when the next Social Media Writing class comes in they will imagine a new project. “It’s a useful lesson for other ventures,” Braun said. Whatever happens, it is sure to be a valuable tool for people to find out about upcoming events and discover local places to explore.