Ball State students gain professional experience while positively impacting the world through collaborative partnerships. More than 12,000 students have engaged in 750-plus immersive learning projects since 2007. All seven colleges and 45 academic departments have conducted projects throughout Indiana and some around the globe.
Malik Cato, ’12, spent the fall of 2010 grappling with the complexities of a surging global water crisis. The vice president of journalism for the Black Media Association and his peers collaborated with global news organization Circle of Blue to transform elaborate statistics into dynamic information graphics.
“Getting the chance to apply my skills to something that is relevant and affecting hundreds, thousands, even millions of lives is so rewarding,” says Cato, who is majoring in journalism graphics and magazine journalism. “I see the weight put on journalists’ shoulders to convey the facts and others’ ideas, so I take what I do a lot more seriously.”
NPower is a network of nonprofit organizations committed to connecting charitable groups with efficient technology solutions. Through three immersive learning projects, Ball State has become a powerful part of that charge. Under the mentorship of Catherine Chen, associate professor of information systems and operations management, a team of students from information systems, telecommunications, and marketing produced training videos and conducted workshops for nonprofit executives to learn about the applications of cloud computing. Students also collaborated with NPower to research free and low-cost software tools for nonprofits’ network management, donor tracking, and security.
Ball State apparel design students partnered with IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital to transform drafty, pea-green gowns into cozy, dignified apparel for patients with cancer. In June 2011, the team revealed a handful of designs, which include soft ruffles and wrap dresses for women and, for men, lapels that lend themselves to the look of a robe or smoking jacket. The gowns also allow easy access to ports on patients’ bodies, eliminating the need for nurses to cut the garments open.
Civil War Experiences
One paragraph in a fourth-grade history book is not nearly enough space to convey the significance of Indiana’s only action in the Civil War, according to Paul Gestwicki, associate professor of computer science. He and history professor Ronald Morris pulled together computer science and history students to create an educational computer game that delves into the compelling characters, difficult travel, political maneuvering, and moral complexities of Morgan’s Raid. Teachers have infused the game into their curriculum, and Gestwicki and his students have gone on to create digital archeology simulations for elementary students and educational games for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Michal Knappenberger Miller, ’11, elementary education major, completed three immersive learning projects in her three years at Ball State. Winner of the Teachers College Outstanding Senior Award, the active volunteer engaged in after-school tutoring and helped organize community events in partnership with Muncie’s Buley Center and Longfellow Elementary School. She traveled with Partners in Preparedness to New Orleans, where she taught resilient kids living amid the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Miller also worked with the Urban Semester program in her final year at Ball State to create a parent room, implement community events, and formulate techniques for student success at Greenbriar Elementary School in Indianapolis.
“I was able to discover hands-on learning through what I experienced as part of these immersive learning projects,” says Miller, now a first-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “The courses available to me through the Teachers College have helped shape me, my beliefs, and my teaching style in a way that will help me be conscious of students and their needs.”
Bringing Music to Life
Ben Clark, ’11, musical theatre major, and 13 fellow students brought Hoosier author Cathy Day’s novel The Circus in Winter to life. Clark collaborated with two-time Tony Award-winning actress Sutton Foster to write music and lyrics for the original play, while his classmates focused on research, production, and set design. The musical made its debut at Ball State in September 2011, and it again took center stage at the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in January. As a regional finalist, The Circus in Winter has the potential to be recognized as one of the best student productions in the country at the national KCACTF in April.
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