Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Immersive Learning

May 14, 2007

A Ball State telecommunications professor will coordinate a student team in an immersive learning experience to produce a documentary about the Indiana portion of the National Road.

Nancy Carlson, chair of the telecommunications department, and her students will create "Stories along the National Road." The documentary will focus on the Indiana segment of the nation's first federally funded highway, which was commissioned in 1806 by President Thomas Jefferson. The National Road runs from Cumberland, Md., to Vandalia, Ill.

The project is funded through a $120,818 National Scenic Byways Grant from the Federal Highway Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Carlson and her students will focus on telling stories about people who have lived near the Indiana segment, located near Ind. 40, which stretches 156 miles from Richmond to Terre Haute. This is Carlson's third documentary. Previously, she was the executive producer of "Gene Stratton-Porter: Voice of the Limberlost" in 1996 and "Ed Ball's Century" in 2000.

"Many travel guides have been written about the National Road, but no one has told the many human stories of building the road, living along it or traveling across it," Carlson said. "Because the telecommunications department has a master's degree with an emphasis in digital storytelling, we will engage these students to help find and record those stories."

The documentary will not only be used in linear form, as in a public television program, but the stories will also be used in visitor centers, touch screen kiosks, museums and schools.

The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2009. Shooting and editing the documentary will serve as an educational vehicle for both undergraduates and graduate students in the telecommunication's department.

Carlson is working closely with the Indiana National Road Association, located in Mt. Auburn, Ind., and is seeking story ideas from residents who live near the National Road. She may be reached at or (765) 285-1489.