These news articles were written for The Lance (Evangel University’s Student Newspaper) while I served as the Online Editor.
Students Reach Out to Community
Written by Jonathan May on Oct 25, 2012
Evangel students will join the nation in making a difference through volunteer work Saturday.
Make a Difference Day was founded in 1992 by USA WEEKEND magazine as a national day of doing good. Lacey Nunnally, director of the Social Work Program, brought Make a Difference Day to campus in 2005.
Donna Trower, office coordinator of Career Services, said that sign-up sheets are available outside the cafeteria for students who want to volunteer at a particular organization. Signing up early is not a necessity, though. “You don’t have to sign up in advance. You can just show up on Saturday, and we’ll put you to work,” Trower said.
Make a Difference Day is valuable to the various organizations that students volunteer at. Trower said, “Students spend a lot of time helping others, getting work done that may not otherwise be done.”
Matt Elenbaas, CROSSwalk assistant director of activities, said that students will be able to choose from a variety of different organizations to volunteer at. “Some of the agencies we are working with are Center for the Blind, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Ozarks Family Resource Center, Victory Mission, Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity.” Elenbaas said that they are still working to get a few more organizations on board for Saturday.
There are many benefits to volunteering, Trower said. “I think it benefits the students, staff and faculty that go because it gives you a sense of community; it is fun, you can make new friends, and it is part of showing our compassion to others by reaching out to our community.”
Trower said that students participate for a variety of reasons. “We have a lot of great students that are very compassionate and they have a heart for others. We have people that come just because it is fun, and they want to hang out with their friends.”
Trower said that a normal turnout for Make a Difference Day is between 130 and 160 people. Last year there were about 160 people that volunteered.
Brianne Anders, Social Work Club president and senior, encouraged students to get involved. “You just need to put yourself out there. It is really about putting servanthood into action.”
Volunteers will meet outside the cafeteria at 12:30 p.m. to sign up and arrange carpooling. Make A Difference Day will last until 4 p.m. As an added incentive for volunteering, cash prizes will be given away at the end of the day. There is one $100 prize, one $50 prize and four $20 prizes.
Student led chapel continues
Peer preaching strengthens students
Written by Jonathan May on Sep 14, 2012
While Evangel requires students to attend a certain percentage of chapels each semester, many students are looking for something more. Student-Led Chapel was created to address some of those needs.
In the past, Evangel had chapel five days a week. As a result, there were more opportunities for students to speak in chapel. John Plake, campus pastor, said that Student-Led Chapels were designed to give students an opportunity to lead and direct their own chapel services.
“It allows students to minister to each other in extended times of prayer and worship without the same time restrictions we have in the main chapel,” Plake said. Plake encouraged students to attend student-led chapels. “I think it is a great experience for everyone who participates.”
Sapphire Fitzgerald, senior, is currently running Student-Led Chapels. Although Student-Led Chapels are under the direction of CROSSwalk Activities and Events, these chapels are entirely student-run—from the planning to the worship to the preaching.
“We realize that people aren’t always interested in the speakers at chapel,” said Fitzgerald. Student-Led Chapel, she said, can be a great alternative. “It is really cool to see your peers up there preaching about something that is really relevant to you,” Fitzgerald said.
There are many ways to get involved in Student-Led Chapels. Prayer, ushering and leadership positions are currently available. “It’s always good to have lots of help,” said Fitzgerald.
There are usually four to six Student-Led Chapels each semester, and alternate chapel credit is available.
Local church fair on campus
Written by Jonathan May on Aug 29, 2012
Finding a home church in the Bible Belt can be a daunting task. There are 50 churches affiliated with the Assemblies of God within 15 miles of Evangel, according to the A/G Church Directory. Every year the Spiritual Life office hosts a Church Involvement Fair to help new and returning students get connected with local churches. The Spiritual Life office will hold the fair Friday in the Student Union.
John Plake, campus pastor, said, “A lot of the area churches have well developed ministries that are just ready for students to get involved.” Plake said that the church fair is great way for students to meet the people behind these great ministries and ask any questions they may have.
While the Spiritual Life office offers many opportunities for students to grow in their faith, Plake strongly encourages students to get connected with a local church during their time at Evangel.
Andrew Goodall, residence director of Scott Hall, said, “I think it is important to get connected to a community of people who are living in faith together…That is something separate than what you are involved with on campus.”
Currently there are seven churches signed up to have a booth at the fair, but more are expected to join in the next few days.
Three tips on choosing a church
Plake offers tips for students looking for a church home.
1. Try more than one church before making a decision.
2. Talk to other people. Seek out advice from students and faculty that have already gone through this same process. Don’t just ask them what church they go to: ask them why they chose that church.
3. Find a place to get involved. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Look for opportunities to build relationships with other believers.
There’s an app for that
Written by Jonathan May on Mar 2, 2012
Jaakko Iisalo, a Finnish game designer employed by Rovio, was sitting at home with some extra time on his hands. As he mulled over a project he was assigned at work, Iisalo was hit with a burst of inspiration. Little did he know that the crazy-eyed birds he was sketching out in Photoshop would become an integral part of one of the best-selling applications of the decade. Since then, Angry Birds reached over 300 million downloads, according to Edge magazine.
What was once just a marketing campaign transformed into reality over the past several years. There is an app for almost anything imaginable. According to Apple’s website, the Apple App Store boasts over 500,000 apps. The Android Market follows closely behind with over 400,000 apps, according to Android’s website. With close to one million apps between two providers alone, it is no wonder the phrase “there’s an app for that” has gained so much popularity.
Some online services claim that they can help users with no coding experience create apps. In reality, though, to build a great app, a developer must be proficient in any coding languages that are specific to his or her developing platform of choice. Some developers work alone, like Eddie Kim, creator of Car Locator for Android. According to Kim’s personal blog, “What started as a little side-project while I was vacationing with my family, turned into a few extra bucks for lunch money every day.” Others prefer to work as a team, like the developers of Angry Birds.
App development has quickly become a very lucrative profession. In Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address last June, Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS software, announced that Apple had reached 14 billion app downloads and had paid over $2.5 billion to developers. According to PR Newswire’s website, “In 2012, smartphone growth is expected to jump 25 percent as people exchange their feature phones for more advanced devices.”
According to Apple’s website, they are counting up to the 25 billionth app downloaded. The site provides a counter keeping track of the current amount of apps downloaded. Now, users are not only gaining an app, but the opportunity to win a $10,000 App Store gift card if they are the 25 billionth app down loader.
Design, usability and features in phone operating systems
Written by Jonathan May on Feb 24, 2012
While it is hard to imagine a world without the smartphone, the reality is that smartphones have only been around for a few years. The first iPhone was released in 2007, followed by the Droid in 2009 and Windows phone in 2010.
Hardware and design are important, but it is the operating system inside the phone that makes the phone unique.
What makes a great operating system? Some of the most important elements are design, usability, features and application support.
According to Computerworld’s website, “For simplicity, elegance and beautiful design, iOS has no peer.” Apple’s latest operating system release is the iOS 5. This operating system includes iCloud support, an improved notifications system, PC-free device syncing and many other new apps and features.
The Apple App Store offers thousands of apps that can be instantly downloaded. The iOS 5 has a very small learning curve and is very simple to use. Like any operations system, Apple has disadvantages, as well.
Apple imposes strict regulations on app developers. As a result, many users choose to jailbreak their iPhones to gain access to increased functionality not present in the original operating system.
Ice-Cream Sandwich, the latest Android operating system release, was designed from the very start to be customizable. Developed by Google, Android is completely open-source.
This means that, unlike Apple, no one can place restrictions on apps submitted to the Android Market. Therefore, Android boasts the largest app market in the world.
According to The Verge’s website, “Ice-Cream Sandwich is, without question, the biggest change for Android on phones yet.” Android integrates seamlessly with Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Maps.
“For its features, customization options and openness, Android has no peer,” Computerworld’s website said, “The downside is that Android can be rough around the edges, and the exact feature set and implementation you get are subject to the whims and control of device manufacturers and service providers.”
Mango, the latest Windows Phone operating system release, may be a newcomer to the game, but it is rapidly gaining in popularity. Computerworld’s website said, “Windows Phone 7 is designed to show information at a glance and isn’t app-centric, so if you’re the kind of person who isn’t enamored with apps and just wants to get information fast, it’s worth a look.”
Mango integrates social network content with the rest of the platform’s key features, making it easier to use the phone to interact with friends and family via social networking platforms.
Engadget’s website said, “With Mango, WP7 has caught up with Android and iOS in nearly every way, and in some areas it’s even surpassed the other two in functionality.”
Android, iOS and Mango all have similar features and functionality but very different user interfaces. In the end, choosing a phone operating system comes down to personal preference.
iBooks turn a page in textbook history
Apple makes its way into the classroom with e-books on mobile devices
Written by Jonathan May on Feb 3, 2012
Apple Inc. announced that they will begin to offer interactive digital textbooks in its iBooks store during a press conference in New York City on Jan. 19. The development of this technology and its availability on a device as popular and widely used as the iPad has the potential to effect the way students will learn in the future.
IBooks 2 was released Jan. 19, along with iBooks Author, a free desktop publishing app for the Mac platform.
The major benefit of iBooks textbooks is the price. With Apple’s current pricing scheme, the most expensive book is $14.99. Sheri Phillips, assistant professor and director of career development, said that because of the reduced cost, it will probably encourage people to purchase the e-books. Gabriel Mays, engineer and TV video supervisor, said, “The up front cost will be more than traditional textbooks because you have to get an iPad, but in the long run it will be much cheaper and more environmentally friendly.”
Currently, however, there are only 10 textbooks available in the iBooks store. According to USA Today’s website, during the press conference, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, did not say how many books will become available. Currently some of Apple’s publishing partners are Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Together these companies control 90 percent of the textbook market.
Despite Apple’s current small selection of digital textbooks, this market still has the potential to grow and make an impact on the learning system. Mays said, “Everyone would probably bring their books to class because they would always have their iPad with them.” The interactive textbooks also allow highlighting and notetaking, so students can save key information for later retrieval. IBooks textbooks, once purchased, can be easily updated as new editions are made available. Students can download the latest version of their textbook free of charge.
There are some potential problems as well. “There can always be technological glitches,” Mark Kelton, associate professor of communication, said. “You always have the threat of a monopoly and lack of competition. Competition helps prices go down, so if you don’t have that, it could be a problem.” Mays said that battery life could potentially be a problem as well. Kelton said, “For our older students, there could be a bit of a learning curve they would have to overcome.”
Professors and students both expressed excitement about integrating. Phillips said, “It speaks to different learning styles; I like that.” Mays said that the interactivity of the textbooks would be great to incorporate into the actual course curriculum. Mays said, “The fact that they [e-books] can do videos and they are interactive makes them way better than a textbook.” Kelton said he would still miss having a traditional book in his hands but feels that the interactive textbooks are easy to operate.
According to Phillips, Kelton and Mays, the Apple textbooks are worth the hype generated. These new technologies offer many new opportunities for both educators and students. “I think it opens up more possibilities for ways of teaching and ways of learning,” Phillips said. However, only time will tell if traditional paper textbooks will be replaced by interactive digital textbooks and become obsolete or if the two media will coexist.
The beauty of biking revealed
Written by Jonathan May on Jan 27, 2012
Since the late 1800s, people all around the world have been using bicycles as a means of exercise and transportation. According to the Real Time Statistics Project, there are approximately one billion bicycles worldwide—over twice the number of automobiles. While the overall design of the bicycle has stayed relatively constant over the last couple hundred years, many improvements have been made in the aerodynamics and safety of bicycles.
While many commuters use bikes to save money on gas, many other benefits can be achieved through cycling. Harvard recently did a study of 19,000 middle-aged women to determine the health benefits achieved by cycling. The study found that even biking five minutes a day can help reduce weight gain. Longer rides were even more effective in shaving off the pounds. Mental health, muscles, the immune system, the heart and coordination can all be improved through cycling.
William Griffin, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, began biking when he was in school. While at Evangel, he would ride laps around the school for exercise. Later in his life, he used his bike to commute to work. It was not until he began distance riding that Griffin really began to fall in love with biking. Now he rides between four and five thousand miles every year. Griffin said that he likes to ride the country roads around Springfield partly because of the scenery. There are lots of farms, tractors, fields and wildlife. “The stuff you see makes it worth it,” Griffin said. He and his wife have both begun bringing digital cameras with them on their rides to record the natural beauty around them.
One of the greatest things about biking is that it is very simple and does not cost a lot of money. When looking for a bike, it pays to shop around online or at garage sales for something used instead of breaking the bank to purchase a brand new bike from the store. Griffin recommends buying a used bike, especially for a person who is not sure biking will be something that they love.
The most important safety rule to remember when biking is to always wear a helmet. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, only 18% of cyclists wear helmets all of the time. Most bicycle-related deaths are from head wounds. Griffin said, “I wore a helmet for 17 years before I actually used one. But when I did, I was really glad I had it on.” He has had several bike accidents in which wearing a helmet has saved his life.
Griffin offers several pieces of advice for the student who is interested in cycling. First, do not spend a lot of money on a bike. Look at Craigslist, eBay, or garage sales and buy a used bike. Second, make sure to get a bike that fits. Many bike shops offer to size people for free. Those measurements can be used when looking for a used bike. Third, make sure to get the right bike for right job. If the main purpose of the bike is going to be riding on roads out in the country, then get a road bike. However, if the purpose is going to be off-road biking or commuting, a mountain bike would be a better choice. Finally, Griffin stressed, “Wear a helmet, and wear it right.”
Springfield has many trails that are well suited to biking. A quick Google search will turn up a lot of options. The Ozarks Greenways’ website lists 10 separate trails ranging from two to 35 miles in length. The Frisco Highline Trail is the second-longest bike trail in Missouri. According to the trail’s website, “The route still winds through woods and pastures, crossing sixteen bridges on its way across two counties. The deer still bound away, the cattle still stare, and the small town folks still know how to fry up a pork tenderloin and make a stranger feel welcome.”
Biking is a great way to get out of the dorms and experience the beauty of the great outdoors. Many health benefits are associated with cycling, and the exercise counts towards the fitness hours required by Evangel. The best part is that it is easy and relatively inexpensive to begin. John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”