Immersive Learning

FAQs

How do faculty benefit from the immersive learning experience?
How do I get started?
Are some criteria required and others optional? Are there a certain number of criteria that must be met?
Do projects have to offer a set number of credit hours or fit within a specific timeframe?
What is the difference between immersive learning and experiential learning?
How do I find an external partner? What resources are available to me to help do so?
How do I find students? What resources are available to me to help with this?
Are all immersive learning opportunities for students elective?
Is there a research agenda at Ball State that is studying the efficacy of immersive learning on learning outcomes and long-term benefits to students and alumni?
How do I navigate course equivalencies for student participants in my project? What resources are available to me to help with this?
How will this affect my course load? What resources are available to help me with this?
I’m the faculty of record for an interdisciplinary immersive learning team. Another faculty member, outside my discipline, may be determining if my students have met appropriate requirements. Who can help me understand how to manage this?
How will leading an immersive learning project affect my promotion and tenure goals?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do faculty benefit from the immersive learning experience?

Immersive learning can invigorate and ignite faculty interests in unanticipated ways. You will have the opportunity to undertake personally relevant projects, providing you with research opportunities and networking across disciplines.

Many faculty report that they get the chance to try a new idea or explore a new area in innovative, creative ways. The closer connection to students and community is especially rewarding. Often faculty comment on how much they learn during the experience and how the new pedagogical strategies inform and improve their other classroom experiences.

Some immersive learning projects also receive recognition and visibility across campus and in the media.

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How do I get started?

Once you have familiarized yourself with the distinctive characteristics of immersive learning and review some of the featured projects, discuss your vision with your department chair and/or curriculum committee. Many individuals across campus have been successful in transforming existing curriculum into immersive learning experiences. For support in such development, contact the Office of Educational Excellence.

The Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, which accepts proposals in the spring, as and the Provost Immersive Learning Grant, which accepts proposals in the fall and spring, both fuel these transformative experiences. The Immersive Learning Advisory Committee and the Office of the Associate Provost can provide you with additional resources and guidance in identifying internal and external funding to support your immersive learning endeavor.

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Are some criteria required and others optional? Are there a certain number of criteria that must be met?

The components of immersive learning experiences have been intentionally defined to maximize student learning experiences and community impact.

Each year, departments submit reports to the associate provost’s office detailing immersive learning experiences provided in their respective program areas. These reports are carefully reviewed to ensure that experiences designated as immersive conform to university guidelines.

That said, there is no specific number of criteria that must be met because the project will be evaluated as a whole; however, there are a few elements that are critical for it to be considered immersive.

The work must be student driven, there must be some outcome, and there needs to be a community partner. The project needs to be interdisciplinary. Members of the Immersive Learning Advisory Committee can provide feedback.

For support in more fully aligning your experience with the Ball State University guidelines for immersive learning, contact the Office of Educational Excellence.

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Do projects have to offer a set number of credit hours or fit within a specific timeframe?

Immersive learning experiences come in all shapes and sizes. Some projects have provided as few as three credits during one semester while other projects have carried on multiple semesters to provide as many as 18 credits.

Faculty members involved define the scope of the project in accordance with the nature of the project and the intended student learning outcomes. Many faculty members prefer to explore their comfort with immersive learning by beginning with a project that is smaller in scope to gauge their own compatibility with this pedagogical approach.

The Immersive Learning Advisory Committee and Office of Educational Excellence can also assist faculty members with the possibility of taking an existing course and making it immersive.

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What is the difference between immersive learning and experiential learning?

Immersive learning pulls together interdisciplinary student teams that solve problems for community partners. The result is a final product that enhances the community with a lasting impact. Students have created business plans, websites, documentaries, content and applications for emerging media, publications, and much more.

Although immersive learning is clearly experiential, project-based learning, not all experiential learning opportunities are immersive.

For example, while internships are clearly experiential, they do not include students working together as a team or learning that is student-driven, which are integral to immersive learning. For example, while students might participate a study abroad program, and thus immerse themselves in another culture, there is no interdisciplinary, team-based project, no product, and no community partner.

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How do I find an external partner? What resources are available to me to help with this? 

For support in identifying community partners, contact Building Better Communities Fellows.

Community partners are frequently identified as a first step in a project, as community-based need often informs the development of a project. Faculty members are encouraged to consider the nature of a particular project, and how it might have community impact. From here, faculty can begin to generate a list of potential partners in the community with whom they might work to accomplish specific goals.

Community partners are a required element of all immersive learning projects and frequently guide the direction of a particular program. However, the definition of “community” is very broad.

Partners range from local nonprofits such as Team Work for Quality Living and Muncie Civic Theatre to national partners such as the Holocaust Museum or the Southern Poverty Law Center. A community might also be discipline based, such as the scholars who read Stance, a peer-reviewed international undergraduate philosophy journal that resulted from an immersive learning project.

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How do I find students? What resources are available to me to help do so?

Whether you are transforming an existing course, or have developed a new immersive learning experience, how you will recruit students needs to be carefully considered.

Building Better Communities (BBC) and the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry work to connect faculty members, students, and community partners ready to participate in immersive learning opportunities.

Immersive learning opportunities in need of additional faculty mentors or students are also often posted on the Ball State Communications Center under the Immersive Learning category.

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Are all immersive learning opportunities for students elective?

Not all credits for immersive learning come from elective hours. Many departments are including immersive learning in their curriculum requirements. Faculty can work to ensure that appropriate course substitutions are made for immersive learning experiences.

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Is there a research agenda at Ball State that is studying the efficacy of immersive learning on learning outcomes and long-term benefits to students and alumni?

Several faculty have published manuscripts on the impact of immersive learning on student learning outcomes. Additionally, the provost now requires that faculty articulate how student-learning outcomes will be assessed as a condition of funding. The University Assessment Committee is currently examining the structures where student outcomes are assessed as part of the preparation for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

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How do I navigate course equivalencies for student participants in my project? What resources are available to me to help with this?

Many immersive learning experiences are required courses, and therefore do not require course equivalency.
Some, however, are above and beyond the scope and sequence of required degree elements. In this case, it is preferable to explore the potential of equivalency for students so that the immersive experience does not add additional time and/or credit to a particular degree.

To explore the potential of course equivalency, begin by contacting your department chairperson. This can be a lengthy process and should be explored early in the development of your immersive learning experience. Consult the undergraduate course catalogue to find close or matching courses.

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How will this affect my course load? What resources are available to help me with this?

Individual departments determine course load. In most cases, immersive learning experiences are considered according to credit designations, and faculty are loaded as such, in line with individual departmental/college policy. For information on course load, contact your department chairperson.

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I’m the faculty of record for an interdisciplinary immersive learning team. Another faculty member, outside my discipline, may be determining if my students have met appropriate requirements. Who can help me understand how to manage this?

Occasionally, departments will designate someone as the faculty member of record, even though the student is participating in an immersive learning experience outside of the department. This is done as a means through which to guard full-time equivalencies for a department, as well as more easily grant credit for a particular student. As a faculty member of record, you have the right to request to review work that students have completed throughout the course of the semester and to understand how student-learning outcomes have been evaluated.

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How will leading an immersive learning project affect my promotion and tenure goals?

Criteria for promotion and tenure can vary widely from department to department and college to college within the university. Building a research component into an immersive learning project can ensure publishing opportunities that further scholarly productivity. Your department chair and/or the chair of your department promotion and tenure committee can provide the best guidance as you proceed.

Also, all departments need to offer immersive learning opportunities, so your interest could help the department in a variety of ways.

You can also contact members of the Immersive Learning Advisory Committee to discuss how their experiences have enhanced their research, teaching, and service.

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