In this interview, #bsuenglish professor Patrick Collier discusses his Virginia Ball Center seminar “Everyday Life in Middletown.”
What did the project entail?
These Virginia Ball seminars are semester-long projects where students get up to 15 credits for their participation, the teacher gets a fellowship, and that gets him or her out of teaching responsibility or any other responsibility on campus. The subject of the seminar was “Everyday Life in Middletown.” Middletown, I assume you know, is Muncie. There’s this history of Muncie being referred to as Middletown since the ’20s when the Lynds did their sociological study in Muncie and it became a national best-seller.
Sustainability is an important goal of immersive learning courses. Preferably, immersive projects can continue to run as part of the standard curriculum. The department of English has several sustained immersive learning projects, including the Broken Plate literary journal, Creative Writing in the Community, and Book Binding, which is one section of the capstone course, English 444, as taught by Dr. Rai Peterson.
The book binding course teaches students to hand-sew signatures and text blocks and to bind them as books, using a variety of binding methods such as Belgian, case-book, carousel, Coptic, Japanese stab, pamphlet stitch, and others. Students in the course write researched, original text (which might vary from an in-depth, researched thesis to an introduction followed by a collection of original poetry or prose), and each student brings out a hand-bound edition of four copies of her work.
Our immersive learning project with the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library will debut its traveling exhibit, which incorporates content from our manuscript and film teams, in Bracken Library on July 9 at 2:00 p.m. All of the students will be on hand to answer questions and talk about how they researched and made these exhibits and marketing plans and products for the KVML.
Our project has maintained high academic integrity because we have told our students that, since it is funded through the office of the Chief Academic Officer at Ball State, that the administration cares about the integrity, accuracy, and research behind every fragment of it. We hope that you will stop by, ask questions, and thank these students for the very hard work they have done. Each understands that there cannot be any “C” work in an immersive project, and while the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is their ostensible client, increasing the good name of Ball State was always their ultimate goal.
It is hard to drum up audience on campus in the summer, but we turn over the products to the KVML on July 19, and we wanted this exhibit to open first on our own campus where the professors and friends whose opinions we value most could see it first.
Last semester, English professor Dr. Rai Peterson called for students from various disciplines across the university student body to assist her in a 33-week immersive learning seminar (to see our original post on this seminar, click here). Her project seeks to reshape and expand the reach of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis via several approaches, including new marketing, expanded advertising, and the preservation of original and rare Vonnegut artifacts. At this point in the semester, the seminar has set its sights on collecting and digitizing many Vonnegut artifacts, and these efforts have begun to gain national attention. The latest example is from “The Digital Shift,” an extension of Library Journal, which discusses the seminar’s intentions to bring rare and unique documents such as Vonnegut’s letters and manuscripts to the library in digital form. This article, entitled, “Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Tackling Digitation,” also describes some of the future plans of Dr. Peterson and her student interns, which include a film project and “mobile library.” Continue below to read a short blurb from Dr. Peterson and click the link to view the full article from “The Digital Shift.”
Our seminar students will be creating digital manuscript and film/audio archives, re-designing gift shop products, and building a traveling museum for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Because of great publicity like this, we are already receiving requests for the products of our seminar, and we’ve only just begun. Stay tuned because we have big things to unveil as our seven month-long project unfolds. Click the link below to view the full article from “The Digital Shift.”
“Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Tackling Digitation,” from “The Digital Shift:” http://bit.ly/tUidZD
An example of a roadside cross on I-69.
Immersive learning. As Ball State students, or even local residents, it is difficult to have not encountered this phrase floating around in our daily lives: it’s everywhere from billboards to the university website. Unfortunately, I believe that a true understanding of the philosophy behind this phrase eludes many of us. Students and parents are told that Ball State is unique because of its commitment to immersive learning. We are told that we will be hard pressed to find other comparable universities that have this dedication to immersive learning. Where this might be an effective marketing strategy, the simple, and even unfortunate, truth remains that until the immersive learning approach is experienced first hand, its true benefits cannot be measured. And make no mistake that when I say “benefits,” I truly believe that immersive learning positions students (and even instructors on some level) to examine their strengths and utilize them in a manner that allows for the greatest amount of potential. Continue reading