Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Immersive Learning = Unexplored Territory

Ball State makes all of its campus tour guides memorize the definition of immersive learning. How do I know this? Because I am a tour guide myself. Of course, being three months into a bona fide immersive learning experience, I felt no need to memorize the printed text. On tours I just talk about my experience. But I always think to myself, the other tour guides must be very befuddled when trying to elaborate.

I sometimes find it difficult to explain exactly what it is. Not the project, mind you. Give me two minutes and I'll explain our (broad) project goal. Give me three minutes and I'll read you Ball State's immersive learning definition. But ask me about the heart and effects of immersive learning and you'll be sitting a while. But don't worry! I'll just hit some high points here.

My parents never had to light a fire under me to get me to work. I get the feeling the other 16 group members (all of whom I met at the start of the term) would tell you the same thing. But immersive learning has brought me onto an entirely new and, thus far, unexplored level of motivation. There are no tests and very few mandatory class meeting times. Yet, I find myself waking up at 9 in the morning on days when nothing is on the schedule, working for hours on tasks I assigned myself. No one tells me to do probably about 90% of the work I do. I just do it. And I know I'm not the only one. There is something about an atmosphere where 17 talented and motivated people have been thrown together knowing that the university has invested money and so many other resources in our work. Everyone wants to create something extraordinary. Everyone wants to leave their mark. And everyone cares. That's my favorite part: everyone cares.

In summary, immersive learning is this: As we move along in the semester, the bar just keeps raising higher. And the coolest thing? No authority figure, no parent, no outsider is doing that. We the students are raising the bar ourselves.

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