November 13, 2017

Immersive Learning: Student Engagement + Community Impact

Ball State’s Director of Immersive Learning, Kelli Huth, was the speaker at the SPA colloquium on Friday, November 4, 2017 in Bracken Library.

Huth’s overall message was to explain how immersive learning projects need to incorporate both student engagement and community impact.

Why Immersive Learning?

Huth presenting about immersive learning.
Ball State University has the goal of being the model of the most student-centered and community-engaged of the 21st century public research universities, transforming entrepreneurial learners into impactful leaders – committed to improving the quality of life for all.

Huth went on to explain how the relationship between communities and universities should be by quoting the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“The collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” 

Huth then summed up the importance of immersive learning and projects that have a community impact by asking the question, “If we aren’t doing work that helps and acknowledges the problems within our community than why do we exist?”

Types of Projects

Entrepreneurial Learning
Entrepreneurial learning is a pedagogical approach in which faculty mentors create high-impact, student-driven experiences that encourage exploration, problem solving, creativity, and risk-taking. 

Immersive Learning
These project-based opportunities pull together student teams that work with collaboratively with community partners to address local challenges. The result is a final product that enhances the community with a lasting impact. 
  • Projects are student-driven, but guided by a faculty mentor
  • Teams are interdisciplinary, when possible
  • Students earn credit for participation


Huth answering audience questions.

You can get involved in our community through in-class projects and interdisciplinary special projects. 
Our community can be anything from businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, grassroots community groups, and these different groups can be on a local, regional, national and even global scale. 

Partnership with the Office of Community Engagement

The Office of Community Engagement is Ball State's front door for community partnerships. They connect the university with challenges and priorities beyond campus.

If you are going to work with a community partner it is important to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

How to build Mutually Beneficial Relationships
  • Listen to Community Needs
  • Make Appropriate Referrals
  • Look for Opportunities for Lasting Impact
  • Manage Expectations
    • What is the purpose of this project? 
    • What are the community partner goals/objectives?
    • What are the student learning objectives and how will the partner contribute to these?
    • Are there tangible outcomes expected from the project? 
    • What does success look like?
    • What is our timeline?
    • How will the partners/students/faculty communicate throughout the project?
    • How will we assess the outcomes?

Need help with your project? 

An architecture professor shares his
own immersive learning experiences.

Check out the Office of Immersive Leaning!

General Services
  • Project planning
  • Assistance identifying community partners and internal collaborators
  • Proposal development
  • Identifying sources of funding
  • Student recruitment and course enrollment options
  • Information on policies & procedures
  • Assessment tools
  • Assistance with research and presentation opportunities

The Office of Immersive Learning can also offers services that can help the students working on your project develop into professionals. 

Student Professional Development Training
  • Professionalism 
  • Communication Skills
  • Project Management
  • Defining Roles
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Teambuilding Activities
  • Market Your Experience
  • Showcase Opportunities

In some cases, Immersive Learning staff can offer intensive project management services such as: contract development with external partners, grant and budget management, support for travel and purchasing, technical assistance and equipment, publicity & showcase opportunities, and mini-documentaries.

Need funds for your project?

Internal Funding Opportunities
  • Provost Immersive Learning Grants
  • Mini-grants (College-level)
  • Building Better Neighborhoods Grants
  • Immersive Learning Travel Fund
  • Discovery Grants (Ball State Women’s Fund)

Contact the President’s Immersive Learning Fellows for internal funding:

Carla Earhart, Miller College of Business
Ruth Jefferson, Teachers College
John McKillip, College of Sciences and Humanities
Chin-Sook Pak, College of Sciences and Humanities
Paige Waters, College of Communication, Information, and Media
Pam Harwood, College of Architecture and Planning
Maura Jasper, College of Fine Arts
Denise Seabert, College of Health

External Funding Opportunities
  • Local Foundations
  • Government Organizations
  • Direct Contracts with Community Partners
  • Grants – State and Federal
  • Indiana Campus Compact

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