More Than a Tangible Outcome

A professionally produced film, a new app for the iPhone, a curriculum to fight childhood obesity. The outcome of an immersive learning project is generally a tangible product that addresses a specific problem, sparks public discussion, or creates an impact on the larger community. The outcome for students and faculty members, however, is often less tangible.

Real-World Experience

In Project 18, marketing, dietetics, public relations, health education, and nursing students developed a community and school program to fight childhood obesity and a public relations strategy to promote the initiative across Indiana.

The program, named after the jersey number of its spokesperson, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, was created by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent and included corporate partners Marsh Supermarkets and Strategic Marketing & Research Inc. Students presented their ideas for the curriculum, a plan and materials to support the Down the Aisle program at Marsh, and the public relations strategies to representatives of these organizations.

Through this Building Better Communities Fellows project, our students learned to function as a team, be flexible and adaptable, and developed problem-solving skills—experiences that will translate into the real world. They also learned to believe in their abilities.

“Presenting for professionals as a student is incredibly intimidating,” says health education major Janet Kamiri, ’10, who developed the school-based curriculum. “But you learn to overcome that fear. I can communicate my ideas better, and I’m much more confident in my ideas as well.”

Real-World Action

For faculty members, immersive learning often provides the opportunity to see how the results of their classroom lectures can be transferred into real-world action.

Jennifer Bott, associate professor of management, has led several immersive learning projects, including Project 18 as well as a project where students created plans for the opening of three new Vera Bradley signature stores. Currently, she is leading a project at the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry that explores the role organizational culture plays in the success of corporate mergers.

Bott, also the executive director of the MBA and certificate program at the Miller College of Business, has seen her students grow in their understanding of classroom principles and techniques through immersive learning; however, she didn’t anticipate the effect the experiences would have on her.

“I have learned so much from my students in all of my immersive learning experiences. By forming an interdisciplinary team, I have the opportunity to grow in my understanding and create new connections to material as a result of learning from the student ‘experts’ on my team,” she says. “These experiences humble you as a faculty member and remind you that our jobs require and demand lifelong learning.”

For both students and faculty members, immersive learning provides opportunities not usually expected from the typical college experience.

“The really great part about the immersive learning opportunity is that it’s a real experience for real-life partners,” says Kamiri. “It’s not what you expect initially when you go to college—having an actual impact.”

Adds Bott, “I’m consistently surprised by the talent and skills of our students when given the opportunity to take control of projects—their creativity, dedication, and ingenuity are inspiring.”

Read more about immersive learning and our progress on our strategic objectives related to community engagement.