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 2022 for the Spring 2022 program and may be made by students, faculty, staff, or administrators. All immersive learning projects that occurred or were started during January 1, 2012 – July 30, 2021 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 2022 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.
2021 Immersive Learning Faculty Award Winners
Ball State University’s Office of the Provost and the Office of Immersive Learning are pleased to announce the Spring 2021 recipients for the Immersive Learning Faculty Awards. Watch the video message above featuring Kristen McCauliff, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development. The Office of Immersive Learning wishes to thank members of the 2021 review committee, and all those who submitted nominations. If you would like more information about immersive learning internal grants, award programs or resources, please contact Suzanne Plesha, Director of Immersive Learning. Learn about immersive learning projects from 2020-2021 at this year's virtual showcase.
Peggy Fisher, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Preserving the Past and Looking Toward the Future: Historic Preservation and Digital Storytelling for a Muncie Landmark Church
In the 2019-20 academic year, Peggy Fisher’s students worked with St. Mary Catholic Church to help capture the parish's 90-year history through a full-color coffee table book and five videos. St. Mary Church is a Muncie landmark built on property formerly owned by the Kitselman family. Documenting the transfer of the property, construction and design of the church and other buildings, along with information about the church and its ministries, is an important part of Muncie’s history. Parishioners aren’t often asked to talk about their church, school, and faith. These individuals took great joy in the interviews and connecting with the students.
This project is just one of 19 projects Peggy has done over the last 15 years as a Communication Studies faculty member. Her other community partners have included Muncie Civic Theatre, Beneficence Family Scholars, Little Red Door Cancer Agency, and Boys and Girls Club of Muncie. She will be retiring this May. Congratulations, Peggy, on your outstanding contributions to Ball State students and our community through your immersive learning endeavors.
Sarah Vitale, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Philosophy Outreach Project (POP)
In this ongoing project, interdisciplinary teams of Ball State students curate philosophical content and foster philosophical discussions for Indiana high school students. They have conducted 22 site visits at 11 high schools throughout Indiana. POP students also give philosophical presentations, facilitate activities, and lead discussions during weekly meetings of the Muncie Central High School Philosophy Club, which BSU students founded. During these meetings, POP students often field questions about studying university-level philosophy and college life in general.
When not working directly with high school students, POP team members develop online resources and materials for high school educators. These materials are made freely available via the POP website, and further interactions are facilitated through the POP social media program. Finally, POP students host a highly successful, state-wide philosophy conference for pre-college students. The forum is free to attendees, and any high school student in the state of Indiana is welcome to attend.
POP has made an impact by serving approximately 500 Indiana high school students. Under Sarah’s guidance, the project has been awarded three external grants, received multiple Provost Grants including a Sustainable Course grant in 2021, and produced undergraduate scholarship. Sarah was recently honored with Indiana Campus Compact’s 2021 Emerging Leaders in Community Engagement Award. Congratulations, Sarah, on your continuing work with the Philosophy Outreach Project.
Jill Christman, Professor of English
Indelible: Campus Sexual Violence Project
This 15-hour seminar ran in fall 2019 at the Virginia Ball Center for Creativity Inquiry. Working with partners at The Facing Project and Jana's Campaign, the project examined sexual violence and Title IX implementation on our nation's campuses and the role storytelling plays in making change. Jill's interdisciplinary students came from Creative Writing, Rhetoric and Writing, Literature, English Education, Telecommunications, Women and Gender Studies, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Speech and Audiology, and Accounting. Together they produced a podcast, documentary, website, social media platform, and conversation about sexual violence on campuses across our country.
Indelible's model of student-initiated change, programming, and podcasts have had an impact on a variety of audiences. Locally, the team hosted a self-defense class in November (taught by Trounce Martial Arts), worked with the Student Government Association for legislative change, and distilled policy recommendations for Ball State administration. They also held an Elemental empowerment self-defense class (taught by Mellisa Holtzman) in collaboration with Muncie's Corner Mat yoga studio for high school and college students. Nationally, Indelible's podcasts and materials have been disseminated to a nationwide audience as part of the Jana's Campaign mission to provide "education about and prevention against gender and relationship violence," particularly in our schools. The Indelible team gave a presentation at the Jana's Campaign 2020 (virtual) Midwest Safety Summit and has been invited to the Chicago summit in fall 2021.
The project's primary objective was to never give up on making the world a better, safer, more equitable, and inclusive place for all. A year and a half later, Indelible continues to deliver on this objective. Congratulations, Jill, on this outstanding VBC seminar.
Darolyn "Lyn" Jones
Darolyn "Lyn" Jones, Assistant Teaching Professor of English
Sitting at the Feet of our Muncie Elders: Stories of Resistance and Resiliency.
In spring semester 2020, Lyn received a Provost Immersive Learning Grant for her students to interview and publish the stories of Muncie Senior citizens as a part of a Creative Writing in the Community course. The students immediately began interviewing elders in libraries, coffee shops, and senior residences. The participants were asked to remember when they stood up for something or someone, overcame the impossible and kept moving when they thought they could not. In all, 52 stories were collected by midterm.
When the pandemic hit in March and classes moved online, the project encountered countless obstacles. The students no longer had in-person access to their senior collaborators, work had to be done remotely, and communication was difficult. Some seniors moved out of the residences and were difficult to reach. Still, everyone remained committed to the project. As the community partners worked to keep their residents safe, they continued to assist the class in obtaining the seniors' approvals for the stories. Paper shortages and rising publishing costs were other hurdles that emerged. Even after the semester ended and things did not look good for the project, students remained in communication with Lyn throughout the summer and helped by making phone calls and emails to finalize the stories.
In the fall, after months of persistence, the project was complete. Lyn and her students were able to find 51 of 52 senior contributors. The resulting book – an anthology of poetry and essays - tells stories of grit, grace, and gratitude through the eyes of our local elders. As we continue to live in a pandemic world, these stories and their messages are more important than ever. Congratulations, Lyn, on this outstanding contribution to Muncie Seniors, your students, and our community.
Christman, Neely, & McKinney
Jill Christman, Professor of English; Mark Neely, Professor of English; and Todd McKinney, Teaching Professor of English (Special Recognition)
River Teeth Learning Lab
In 2019, Ball State University became the new institutional home for River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, a premier publisher of creative nonfiction and literary journalism for over twenty years. The publication and its associated projects include a biannual print journal, digital distribution through Amazon Kindle and the international database Project Muse, a weekly online journal of micro-essays called Beautiful Things, an annual nonfiction book contest, a presence at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, a social media platform, website, and daily operations. River Teeth and Beautiful Things receive over 2,000 submissions per year and publish approximately 24 print essays and 50 online micro-essays per year, plus various online content. The River Teeth Learning Lab is an ongoing project with the goal to engage as many students as possible with the work of the journal and its associated projects.
While the lab is not considered "immersive," it offers Ball State students a unique opportunity to develop key literary publishing, project management, design, marketing, and social media skills delivered through a modular format. These scaffolded opportunities prepare students for fully immersive experiences later and serve as a model for other disciplines. Congratulations, Jill, Mark, and Todd, on this Special Recognition, and best wishes as you continue preparing students for immersive publishing experiences in the English department and beyond.
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