Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ball State University Libraries Collaborate on Immersive Learning Educational Experience for Students

The development of University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections as a teaching archive continues to expand, providing a new partnership opportunity for an immersive learning experience for 24 students from the Teachers College.

Archives’ personnel are working with Dr. Mark Malaby, Dr. Jon M. Clausen, and graduate student Mr. Chia-Kun Lee on a new and exciting way to prepare pre-service teachers to enter the profession with a broader understanding of factors that affect schools, teachers, and students.

Students in the Educational Foundations 420 class being taught by Professors Malaby and Clausen, and Mr. Lee are taking part in this new immersive concept for the course during the first summer session. The professors intend to continue the concept with two more sections in the fall.

Learning Objectives Involve Muncie’s Community Schools
In addition to Archives and Special Collections, the Center for Middletown Studies and the Muncie Community School system are partners in the endeavor. Dr. Marlin B. Creasy, Superintendent of Muncie Community Schools, and the assistant superintendents for instruction and elementary education are enthusiastic in their support of the project. Data from the research conducted by the students will be used for staff training, to satisfy certain requirements of the No Child Left Behind program, and to recruit teachers.
The goals established by the professors for the class are
· To help understand the social, historical, and philosophical perspectives of people who live and work within the Muncie Community School district
· To provide students an immersive experience, offering a model for actions they should take into their future teaching communities
· To increase teacher education students’ understanding of the potential for meaningful teaching and community engagement
· To inspire more Ball State University students to apply for jobs within the Muncie Community School district
· To model and use technology effectively in both the teaching of the course and the artifacts developed by the students

The school chosen for the summer class is Garfield Elementary School. Course activities include researching materials in the Archives and Special Collections to understand ways in which the neighborhood and school district has been constructed, a school tour, interviews with school personnel and community members, exploring the neighborhood, and guest speakers including the Director of the Center for Middletown Studies and the Director for the Archives and Special Collections.

Students Using Digital Resources as Part of Learning
The students are utilizing digital resources from the Ball State University Digital Media Repository, a project of the University Libraries, They are producing digital stories about the school and neighborhood and creating a multimedia artifact that will incorporate archival data, photographs, audio, interview data, and secondary textual sources.

“The oral histories, photographs, and other digital materials generated by the class will be made available in the Digital Media Repository, a project of the University Libraries,” said Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries. “Providing access to these types of resources is an important role for the University Libraries for facilitating and strengthening new developments in teaching and learning at Ball State University.”

In addition to interacting with Archives and Special Collections personnel and using archival and digital resources, the students are able to take advantage of many other services and resources of the University Libraries to make their projects successful. These include
· Geospatial Resources and Map Collection personnel who are helping them with neighborhood information and mapping
· Library Information Technology Services personnel who are providing students with access to external hard drives and server space for working on their projects
· Metadata and Data Initiatives personnel who provided forms for compiling metadata so that the student products will be searchable in the Digital Media Repository

The role of the Archives and Special Collections and other units of the University Libraries in this innovative, immersive class is an example of a holistic approach to the educational experience, where the convergence of the traditional archives, the teaching archives, and the digital archives is a key element.

Dr. Malaby and Dr. Clausen are to be applauded for their vision in providing this experience to their students. Archives and Special Collections and the University Libraries are pleased to be a part of the experience.

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