The Immersive Learning Faculty Awards are given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the creation, mentoring, and implementation of immersive learning projects. Award nominations will be accepted at the beginning of 2023 for the Spring 2023 program and may be made by students, faculty, staff, or administrators. All immersive learning projects that occurred or were started during the Fall 2021, Spring 2022, or Summer 2022 semesters will eligible for nomination. Projects that fit within existing departmental curriculum (with or without grant funding) are encouraged to apply. Previous Immersive Learning Award-winners are not eligible for the 2023 Awards. Projects nominated for previous awards that meet the above timeline are welcome to be re-nominated. Self-nominations by project mentors are also strongly encouraged. Nominations must be supported by the chair of the department to which the faculty mentor(s) report.



2022 Immersive Learning Faculty Award Winners

Ball State University's Offices of the Provost, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and Immersive Learning are pleased to announce the 2022 Immersive Learning Faculty Awards.

These awards recognize demonstrated excellence in creating, mentoring, and implementing immersive learning courses. This event celebrates not just our award winners but every individual involved in community-engaged, high-impact activities. We appreciate all that our faculty, students, and staff do to promote immersive learning on our campus and in the community.

This year's immersive learning awards celebrate some of Ball State's most impactful projects taking place from January 1, 2020 to July 30, 2021. The Office of Immersive Learning received twelve exceptional nominations this spring, and many of the nominees had to overcome restrictions, uncertainty, and disruptions due to the COVID Pandemic. Despite the many challenges, these instructors produced exceptional results with their students and community partners.

Awardees received an $1,000 honorarium, a trophy, and were honored at the 2022 Immersive Learning Showcase held live in Cardinal Hall on May 2, 2022. We extend a special thank you to past award recipients who served on our review committee: Darolyn "Lyn" Jones, Sarah Vitale, and Jill Christman.

Learn about immersive learning projects from 2021-2022 at the Fall 2021 Virtual Showcase and Spring 2022 Virtual Showcase

Halteman Park

Halteman Park

Faculty Recipients: Christopher Baas (Landscape Architecture), J.P. Hall (Architecture), and Jeremy Merrill (Landscape Architecture) 

Partner: Halteman Village Neighborhood Association, City of Muncie, Muncie Parks Department.

A pair of hands writes on a notecard on a messy table. Built in 1959, Halteman Village was once the home of the Halteman Swim Club, which operated as a private recreational facility located in the heart of the Halteman Neighborhood in Muncie, Indiana. The club closed in 2017, and the site became vacant, blighted, and dangerous. The club eventually sold the land at a tax sale. After years of negotiations and advocacy, the site was reclaimed and designated as a city park in 2019, but the community had no specific vision or plans as to what would be done with the 5-acre lot. Professors Chris Baas, J.P. Hall, and Jeremy Merrill from the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning saw this as an opportunity for their LA 202: Park and Open Space Design Studio students to apply their classroom knowledge to this neighborhood challenge. 

Building on previous work, the class met with the community in February 2020, hosting a large gathering at Mitchel Elementary School. This meeting included 100 community members, BSU representatives, Mayor Dan Ridenour, State Representative Sue Errington, city council members, and parks department staff. Students identified common themes through this exercise and used methods that engaged all community stakeholders – both young and old – during the proceedings. 

Unfortunately, shortly after the community meeting, the country went into lockdown due to COVID 19. Still, the students continued to engage the community through online surveys and the presentation of digital renderings and plans. "Heat maps" were developed to highlight areas and designs to which respondents were most drawn. The teams collected additional ideas from multiple field trips that investigated case studies and alternate design approaches. Finally, student teams presented their findings through a printed report and fly-through video shown to the neighborhood and city leadership via Zoom. The park fully opened in the fall of 2021.

This project was made possible through a Ball State Building Better Neighborhoods Grant. In addition, the students' work enabled the Halteman Village Neighborhood Association (HVNA) to facilitate a fundraising campaign and grant applications raising over $120,000 in private donations and leveraging over $150,000 of city funds to improve Halteman Park. In the end, this immersive learning project was transformative for the students and the community alike. 

Midwestern Stories

Faculty Recipients: Andrea Wolfe and Kathryn Ludwig (English) 

Partner: Minnetrista Cultural Center

 Three students hang up a poster"As a culture, we become the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves," stated nominator Cathy Day. In this award application, she went on to say that the Midwestern Stories project challenged ingrained cultural myths that promote a nostalgic view of "the way things used to be" and provided a more complete history of the Midwest and a more authentic representation of Midwestern identity. This two-course, two-semester project was led by two professors from the Department of English, Andrea Wolfe and Kathryn Ludwig. Together with their students they investigated the representations of Midwestern identity. 

Utilizing multiple media platforms, students developed museum-quality representations that illustrated the unique characteristics of the land, the contributions of the native and immigrant people, and how historical events helped shape this identity and culture. The final products included an oral history collection and films based on these stories, a nine-episode podcast, a website, and museum-quality artifacts, including a physical installation featured at Minnetrista Cultural Center (April 23-July 12, 2021) and a traveling kiosk that provided audio excerpts from the podcast episodes. Unfortunately, this ambitious project faced numerous challenges due to the COVID pandemic, including changes in teaching modality, the inability to have in-person meetings, and other hindrances. Still, Drs. Wolfe and Ludwig’s superb project management and perseverance helped the students deliver exceptional products and develop career-ready skills in communication, storytelling, and professional writing.  

This project was made possible through a Provost Immersive Learning Pilot Grant. Additional funds were received from the Indiana Humanities Campus Read Grant program. 

Brightfields for a Brighter Future: Solar Potential Analysis for the City of Muncie

Faculty Recipient: Sanglim Yoo (Urban Planning) 

Partner: Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Indianapolis Indiana 

Two students write on notebooks in front of a solar array.Solar power can provide clean, renewable energy to run communities across Indiana, but how does a municipality assess its needs and develop realistic plans to utilize these technologies most effectively? In partnership with the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Dr. Yoo and her PLAN 203 students assessed, analyzed, and evaluated the energy production potential of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panel installations on buildings owned by the City of Muncie, electric grid-connected solar PV installations on brownfield properties, and for off-grid community solar installations. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques, the students performed land use analysis. They estimated the solar production potentials for various Muncie locations following the National Renewable Energy Laboratory guidelines of the U.S. Department of Energy. Virtual tours, interactive maps, and analysis reports provided detailed information about sites and their proposed solar installations. ArcGIS Story Mapping technology was also used, creating user experiences to tell remarkable stories about the project. 

Even though the pandemic posed many unexpected restrictions and obstacles, Dr. Yoo found ways to keep the Sierra Club actively engaged with the students throughout the semester. The finished products were shared digitally and on Zoom with the partner, Muncie Action Plan, Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour, Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Planning Commission, and the Center for Energy Education. In addition, the Sierra Club used the student's work in its Beyond Coal Campaign activities and evidence-based advocacy when they met with community members, elected officials, and stakeholder meetings with the utility company. Likewise, this information was helpful when the City of Muncie decided to purchase the former GM site for utility-scale solar development. The Brightfields project provided valuable hands-on technical and communication opportunities for second-year urban planning students, preparing them for future study and work in the industry. 

Dr. Yoo received a Provost Immersive Learning Pilot Grant to implement this project. 

Conservation Tales 

Faculty Recipients: Barbara Giorgio-Booher (Art) and Tom McConnell (Biology) 

Partner: Rinard Orchid Greenhouse (Muncie, IN), Ball State Stream Ecology Lab (Muncie, IN), and Indianapolis Zoo (Indianapolis, IN). 

Two students in masks examine a dead butterflyIn this project, Ms. Giorgio-Booher, Dr. McConnell, and an interdisciplinary team of students developed and published two wildlife conservation books for children in grades 3-5, entitled "Conservation Tales: Invasive Carp" and "Conservation Tales: Monarch Butterflies." These titles are a part of an ongoing book series covering 13 animal species, with the story development, design, publication, and promotional activities embedded in Ms. Giorgio-Booher’s ART 370 class. Dr. McConnell co-mentors the course, bringing his scientific expertise and contacts to the project. Each semester, students are recruited from a variety of backgrounds to work on the publications. The team for this iteration included students with backgrounds in animation, drawing, visual communication (graphic design), photography, and life science teaching.

To produce these books, students interacted with researchers and biologists at external partner institutions to create stories that reflect authentic science practices and teach about conservation. The external partners supported the project by allowing team members to observe the scientists in action as they researched the featured animals. The partners then became characters in the illustrated books to show readers how real scientists collect data and use that information to protect wildlife and habitats. Each book includes learning activities designed for readers to do at home, in a classroom, or at a nature center. Students also produced promotional posters, stickers, tee shirts, bookmarks, and online graphics for in-person events. 

Despite COVID limitations caused by the pandemic, this class conducted four community outreach events in Muncie and Portland, IN, and presented at two conferences of the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc. 

The story manuscripts and illustrations were published in May 2021 and are available to the public through the Conservation Tales website. Copies of these titles and other books in the series are being purchased by K-12 teachers, nature centers, and other customers across the country, and all proceeds support future writing projects. In addition to helping students work across disciplines and develop invaluable real-world publishing and promotional experience, these books are helping to meet the demand for environmental education materials. 

The Conservation Tales project received a three-year Sustained Course grant through the Provost Immersive Learning Grant program. 

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