About Us

IDEAL: Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning
IDEAL is the Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning Initiative. Supported by the Provost’s office and housed in the Rhetoric Department, IDEAL promotes hands-on learning through innovative assignments.
IDEAL works with instructors to devise resources and develop projects that make classroom innovation easier. These projects ask students to engage with communities beyond the classroom by using digital technologies and creating work that endures beyond the semester. 
Current IDEAL projects include:
The Iowa Narratives Project
Students take their learning outside the classroom by interviewing community members.  Students bring these stories to a wider audience by creating podcasts and slideshows geotagged with GPS coordinates.
Archives Alive!
Students discover and transcribe archival texts in the University of Iowa Libraries’ DIY Histories. Students record a screencast in which they describe the meaning of the transcription process and related research in light of course concepts.
The IDEAL Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities Project
Undergraduate students partner with IISC projects in Muscatine, Iowa. The students capture still images, audio, and video that feature narratives relevant to IISC's work in the community.


Tom KeeganTom Keegan is a lecturer in Rhetoric and Co-Director of IDEAL.  He has a BA in English and Bioethics from the University of Virginia and a PhD in English from the University of Iowa.  He is proud to sport Sox (Red, of course) gear while crossing Iowa in RAGBRAI.  Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, Tom hopes to visit Tokyo one day.

Matthew Gilchrist

Matthew Gilchrist is a lecturer in Rhetoric and Co-Director of IDEAL.  Though originally hailing from Iowa, Minnesota, and Tennessee, Matt regularly roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers- a relationship that's on break right now. Matt holds a BA in English from the University of Tennessee and a MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writer's Workshop.  Though he enjoys baking bread, he would be willing to put his sourdough starter into hibernation if given the opportunity to travel to Rio De Janiero.



Michael Saponaro is one of IDEAL's dedicated graduate assistants. He spent most of his younger years in North Carolina, and made his way to the University of Iowa to attend the School of Urban and Regional Planning. He is an avid fan of urban exploration, and has explored most of the apartment rooftops on Summit Street. He is currently pursuing a certificate in GIS mapping, and also has a teaching assistantship for Principles of Microeconomics in the Tippie College of Business.


Carolyn Colbow

Carolyn Colbow is one of IDEAL's dedicated SITAs.  She made her roundabout way to Iowa after growing up in Ohio and living in Boston for a few years.  When she isn't shooting photography, she is planning an international trip by scrounging up airline miles and points.  She is studying for her Masters in School Counseling and received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Akron and a MA in Non Profit Management from Northeastern University.