Immersive learning project aims to preserve Historic Muncie
by Erin Moore, Emerging Media Initiative and Chris Flook, Telecommunication; video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
Muncie, once a thriving manufacturing city, has faced significant economic and cultural challenges over the last ten years as factories have closed their doors and jobs have moved out of the area. Similar to many cities across the nation’s “rust belt,” Muncie is struggling to gain a new identity and vision for the future.
The Ball State team leading the immersive learning project, “Historic Muncie: Preserving Middletown’s Historic Neighborhoods,” believes that a key to moving forward is re-establishing pride in Muncie’s nationally-recognized historical districts, which symbolize the city’s connections with cultural and architectural historical trends.
Chris Flook, telecommunications instructor and lead project organizer, assembled a team of telecommunications students and additional faculty in Fall 2011 to visually preserve two of Muncie’s ten historic neighborhoods, creating and/or archiving videos, images, maps, interviews, and other materials for an interactive, web-based museum that highlights each district’s specific historical significance, its architectural and structural styles and insights into life before and during the Industrial Revolution.
“The majority of the structures within these districts were built between 1880 and 1930, a period of intense industrialization in Muncie,” explained Flook. “The structure of these neighborhoods, the buildings that have been preserved – they display the overall impact of the introduction of industrialization to agricultural communities.”
Students in Flook’s upper-division TCOM course were split into production teams to research and produce short form documentaries, graphics and textual narratives about the Westwood and Kimbrough Historical Districts. Ron Morris, professor of history, provided expertise with public history, cultural institutions and immersive learning instruction. Suzy Smith, assistant professor of telecommunications, instructed each student team on documentary production, and Ashley Donnelly, assistant professor of telecommunication, helped students shape textual narratives to accompany videos, images and graphics.
The team also worked in partnership with a number of Ball State and local organizations, including Ball State’s Center for Middletown Studies, the Muncie Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Commission, City of Muncie, Indiana Historical Society, Delaware County Historical Society, Minnetrista, ecoREHAB of Muncie, East Central Neighborhood Association, and the Division of Historic Preservation & Archeology, Department of Natural Resources.
A large number of assets have been collected or developed, and work continues on constructing the web interface. Flook plans to pursue future federal, state, and local grants that will provide resources to develop materials for the remaining eight districts. The team hopes that the interactive museum will serve as a rich resource for local historians, educators, city officials, researchers on the Midwest’s industrialization process and, perhaps most importantly, Muncie’s current and future generations of residents.
Faculty and student team develop historical archeology simulation for fifth graders
by Erin Moore, Emerging Media Initiative; video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
[vid url="http://emergingmediainitiative.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/digi_arch.flv&rel=0" class="alignleft"]As collaborators, professor Ron Morris (History) and associate professor Paul Gestwicki (Computer Science) have established a well-deserved reputation as the “dream team” for developing innovative, engaging video games that prioritize fun while immersing players in historically-accurate, compelling environments and storylines from Indiana’s history. In one of their latest projects, Morris and Gestwicki teamed with associate professor Mark Groover of Anthropology to lead Ball State students in the creation of a simulated archeology dig for Indiana fifth graders.
The simulated dig takes place at the Moore-Youse House in Muncie, Indiana, an anthropologically rich environment that housed four historically known households between the 1830s and 1980s, at least three of which were part of a female-centered lineal family. Archeology conducted by previous Ball State students has uncovered photographs, documents, bone, glass, metal and pottery collections that help to tell the story of four generations of occupants from two centuries.
“Elementary students need knowledge and skills from the disciplines of archeology and history to prepare them for the 5th grade ISTEP test in social studies.” said Morris. “Skills like looking at primary sources, examining similarities and differences, evaluating evidence and drawing conclusions. Yet students are rarely exposed to archeological methods, other than a paragraph on prehistoric archeology in a social studies textbook. In our simulation, fifth graders will ‘dig’ for artifacts, but will also be challenged to engage in additional analysis.”
Last May, the faculty team, working with the Building Better Communities Fellows program, recruited students from anthropology, computer science, digital animation, elementary education, history and telecommunications to begin work on the simulation during Summer 2011. Students collected primary sources and artifacts and began laying out the archeological test site, incorporating significant ideas and skills linked to Indiana’s academic standards for elementary social studies. The computer science students were responsible for selecting an appropriate simulation platform and develop graphics and code to make the simulation work. After the summer, the team enlisted Ball State’s Emerging Technologies department to create a playable digital prototype to prepare it for field testing this spring and summer in selected elementary schools across Indiana.
Groover noted that the summer seminar students were extremely dedicated to the project and should be commended for their great efforts. This hard work was on display in December at the Building Better Communities Project Showcase, where the students the initial prototype and talked about their work with industry partners and the campus community, including Ball State President Jo Ann Gora.
“It is the interactivity of games that makes them such powerful learning tools,” explained Gestwicki. “When engaged in a game, the player is learning from the mechanics of the game: the game provides a safe environment for the player to explore new ideas and patterns that he or she can then apply outside the game. In the case of the Digital Archaeology project, we designed a game whose core game mechanics were constructed from a deep analysis of the historical archaeology process, thereby inculcating in the player a tacit knowledge of this fascinating and important domain.”
College students help design, run first social media center for Super Bowl
by Marc Ransford, University Marketing and Communications[vid url="http://emergingmediainitiative.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SportsLink2.flv&rel=0" class="alignleft"]
Ball State University students are playing a key role in a social media effort to assist visitors to Indianapolis before and during the 2012 Super Bowl.
Over the last several months, the students assisted in the development of the 2,800-square-foot social media command center — the first such facility specifically assembled for a Super Bowl. The facility was created by Raidious, an Indianapolis Internet marketing firm, in partnership with the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.
About a dozen Ball State journalism, telecommunications and information and communication sciences students are participating in the effort to offer the online concierge service, helping visitors around Indianapolis in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Nearly half the collegians working at the center are from Ball State with two other local universities supplying student employees.
John Strauss, a journalism instructor overseeing the Ball State group, said the service will operate on official Super Bowl social media channels including its Twitter feed. The service is designed to respond to questions from the public as well as relay questions and developing issues to the host committee, law enforcement and other organizations.
“We were invited by Raidious because of the university’s commitment to emerging media and media design research,” he said. “The students played a major role in helping Raidious test the system during the recent Big Ten Conference football championship game, providing feedback and suggesting workflow and other improvements.
“We have some of the best students the university has to offer working on this project. They are very excited about the opportunity.”
A second group of students, under the leadership of Michael Holmes, director of Insight and Research for Ball State’s Center for Media Design and a communication studies professor, will analyze the center’s strengths and weaknesses in the next two weeks.
Holmes said the command center is an example of the “the ubiquity of social media and the absolute necessity for companies, organizations and communities to use these tools to improve their relations with their customers, audiences and citizens.”
The center is operating out of Raidious’ downtown office on Meridian Street, a few blocks from the Lucas Oil Stadium and the Super Bowl Village.
Bott named assistant provost for learning initiatives
by Ball State’s Provost Office, video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
This January, Jennifer Bott, associate professor of management, was named the university’s assistant provost for learning initiatives. After this position was created last summer, she served on a temporary basis during the fall semester.
After an assessment of the university’s online education capabilities, Bott proposed an implemented an administrative structure that accommodates online classes for on- and off-campus students, as well as a financial framework to support those expanded offerings. Under Professor Bott’s leadership in the last six months, the Integrated Learning Institute (iLearn) was developed and staffed (see Summer 2011 EMI Update), and it is now serving the instructional design and technology-mediated learning needs of faculty members across our campus. Professor Bott conducted an analysis of several areas of online courses, creating operational targets for success. In the coming months, several revisions to current policy and practice will result, with significant input from various stakeholders.
Professor Bott is uniquely suited for leading Ball State’s efforts to expand learning initiatives at the university. She chaired our Growing Online Education task force last year (see May 2011 EMI Update), which identified barriers to online education growth and recommended solutions, while examining business models and strategic growth opportunities for online delivery. She also is a member of our strategic plan task force, which has been meeting regularly over the last few months to establish the university’s vision for the next five years. Ball State continues to put resources in place for our faculty to succeed in implementing that strategic plan’s objectives, and Professor Bott already has been successful in leading our efforts to expand our use of technology in various learning initiatives.
Professor Bott, who earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Akron, has served in a variety of roles at Ball State, most recently as the executive director of the master of business administration and certificate programs at the university’s Miller College of Business. Since coming to Ball State in 2004, she has been a research fellow at the Center for Business and Economic Research and a faculty fellow with the Sponsored Programs Office, and she earned the Junior Faculty of the Year Award in 2009.
Online education programs recognized by U.S. News & World Report
by Nancy Prater, Director of Marketing and Communication, Extended Education
Ball State University was recognized with four top 20 rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 Top Online Education Program rankings – more than any other Indiana college or university (public or private).
According to this inaugural edition of online program rankings by U.S. News, Ball State is:
- No. 7 in student services and technology for online bachelor’s degree programs
- No. 8 in faculty credentials and training for online graduate programs in business
- No. 13 in admission selectivity for online graduate programs in nursing
- No. 17 in student services and technology for online graduate programs in education (teacher and administrator preparation)
“It is so encouraging to see that U.S. News has recognized so many of Ball State’s strengths in online education,” says Jennifer Bott, assistant provost of learning initiatives. “Of the four categories that Ball State competes in, we were recognized in all four. This really speaks volumes about the expertise and energy that our faculty bring in delivering student-focused, rigorous online programs.”
Online programs were ranked in categories (rather than the traditional summative rankings for institutions) and rankings included non-profit and for-profit schools. More about the rankings can be found at www.usnews.com/education/online-education.
Ball State offers more than 60 online degrees and certificates and serves nearly 8,000 students each year who are enrolled in online courses or programs. Many of these programs, including those in business, educational leadership, nursing, and public relations are nationally ranked or recognized.
Architecture professor receives 2011-12 ACSA Distinguished Professor Award
Chanel Richards, University Marketing and Communications Student Media Team
Ball State University professor [and former Emerging Media Faculty Fellow] Mahesh Daas has been named a 2011-12 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Distinguished Professor. The award is one of the highest national recognitions for an architectural educator. As chair of the Department of Architecture, Daas is recognized for sustained creative achievement in the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research and service.
The award jury praised Daas for “a significant record of academic leadership in interdisciplinary research at the University of Texas San Antonio and Ball State University.” One of the nominators said, “Professor Daas is an influential scholar and international leader in the field of innovation for extreme affordability.”
“I am deeply honored that the jury felt strongly about the relevance and sustained merit of my teaching, design, research and leadership,” Daas said. “I have always liked to step in the intersections between disciplines and build bridges between silos. The award reaffirms my belief that, to paraphrase W.B. Yates, education is not about filling a bucket, but about lighting a fire that leads to self-discovery and civil society.”
A medallion and certificate will be presented by the president of ACSA at a special Career Awards Ceremony during the 100th ACSA annual meeting in Boston later this year. Recipients become Fellows of the College of Distinguished Professors of Architecture and may use the title ACSA Distinguished Professor, DPACSA in perpetuity.
TCOM student selected as first Ball State Orr Fellow
by Erin Moore, Emerging Media Initiative
TCOM major and senior Stephanie Bristow has become the first Ball State student to be awarded a Governor Bob Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship, a coveted opportunity for top undergraduate students to work with Indiana’s most dynamic, high-growth companies in a two-year paid position following graduation.
Thousands of students apply each year for the Orr Fellowships from a wide variety of backgrounds and schools across Indiana. Stephanie was selected as one of twenty-five 2012 Fellows who have demonstrated leadership potential, strong interest in entrepreneurial business or organizational leadership and a cumulative 3.5 GPA or higher.
During her two-year fellowship, Stephanie will work for BidPal Network, an up-and-coming Indianapolis company that helps nonprofits use technology for charitable fundraising events. As an event consultant, she will travel nationwide and work with clients to set up events. In addition, she will receive executive-level mentorship at BidPal and develop high-level professional relationships through monthly Orr Fellow Business Leader Meetings.
Information Technology pilots e-textbooks for selected courses
by Erin Moore, Emerging Media Initiative and Yasemin Tunc, New Learning Technologies
This semester, Ball State University’s Office of Information Technology (IT) has launched a one-year pilot study program to assess the quality, accessibility and usability of e-textbooks as alternatives to traditional print versions. Working with Barnes & Noble, Courseload, Inc., and Flat World Knowledge, IT is providing e-textbooks in two sections of MATHS 125, one section of PSYCH 100, and a section of TCOM 384 classes for the first phase of the pilot program.
“This program is a first step in helping reduce the cost of attending college for students and giving ‘digital natives’ an alternative way to access course materials,” said Yasemin Tunc, Senior Director of New Learning Technologies.
In addition to reduced costs, many e-textbooks are offered in a variety of formats, from printable versions to versions optimized for mobile and tablet devices. E-textbooks also integrate features such as social bookmarking and annotating, study aid resources and more seamless integration into Ball State’s Blackboard environment. At the end of the semester, faculty and students will evaluate the technologies, and additional classes will be selected summer and fall 2012 semesters to round out the pilot year.
EM Faculty Fellow Spotlight: John Ludwick
by Erin Moore, Emerging Media Initiative; video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
It’s not difficult to believe that John Ludwick is an animation guy – his colorful Hawaiian shirts and bountiful enthusiasm exude creativity and energy. Ludwick, who joined Ball State in Fall 2011 as an Emerging Media New Faculty Fellow in Electronic Art and Animation, has hit the ground running, working with colleague Andy Beane to expand and strengthen Ball State’s animation program, establishing collaborative relationships across campus, and advancing a unique film project that is already a year in the making.[vid url="http://emergingmediainitiative.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ludwick3.flv&rel=0" class="alignright"]
Ludwick joined Ball State after serving as a lecturer in Media Arts & Sciences at IUPUI in Indianapolis. But the bulk of his career has been spent in industry, where he honed his expertise in storyboarding, 2-D and 3-D animation. He has directed animation televisions spots for Cartoon Network, PBS Kids and Toon Disney, and has consulted on a variety of animation projects for Adrenaline Motion Pictures, Mediasauce, Performance Engineering Services Inc., The Basement, Meysen Inc., and Big Grin Studios. He has also worked for the broadcast design firm Primal Screen in Atlanta, where he won the Gold Broadcast Design Award (BDA) for Best Television Website Promotion. John earned his B.FA in graphic design and M.FA in sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
This spring, John is teaching “Drawing for Animation,” employing a new teaching strategy to document students’ gradually increasing knowledge about life drawing. In traditional life drawing classes, static pieces are created for analysis to help the student progress in their observational and anatomical knowledge of the human figure. In Ludwick’s class, students will create a “wedge,” a short movie used by directors in the film industry to describe a progressing sequence or value. Students will create their life drawings in Photoshop documents containing a layer for every pose the model makes. The result will be a film showing the gradually increasing knowledge of the life drawing student over three months.
John is also making strides on his film project, Claire & The Keys, a unique animated short film that features a story assembled using Disney’s story method, a collaborative technique where the script indicates a general direction, and the storyboard artists flesh out the details. He plans to assemble Ball State talent in 2D animation, 3D animation, motion graphics and traditional background art, to produce a film that will be of a quality to garner international film festival recognition.
He has two additional projects on the horizon, consulting on storyboards for an asthma-related video game targeted at young children (in collaboration with Tonja McClain in Nursing) and a short animation video for local glass manufacturer St. Gobain (in collaboration with animation colleague Andy Beane.)