Audrey Bowers is a junior English education major and writes "Adult-ish" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at email@example.com.
I have taken three immersive learning classes so far during my time at Ball State. This number includes the two classes that I am currently in. If you don’t know what an immersive learning class is, it is blank.
Each and every one of these classes have been fundamental and useful in my education. It has been worth the extra work because I feel more prepared for post-grad life. The immersive learning classes that I have taken / am taking include: Rethinking YA and Childrens’ Lit, #blacklivesmatter edition, The Digital Literature Review and Jacket Copy Creative.
Rethinking Young Adult and Children’s Literature
Rethinking Young Adult and Children’s Literature has been the most impactful and meaningful to me. If you don’t know about Rethinking, it is not only a class but a free digital magazine which features different types of young adult and children’s literature.
We focus on diverse literature especially. The first edition was a general overview of underrepresented groups, the second one focused on LGBTQ lit and the third one (which I worked on) focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, researching books written by black writers.
In this class, I was able to read diverse books, work with a diverse group of children at a local elementary school, write my own children’s picture book and present at a number of conferences, including the at the immersive learning showcase at Ball State University (Fall 2016), the multicultural center at Ball State University (Fall 2016), Virginia Hamilton conference at Kent State in Ohio (Spring 2017) and at The Diversity Research Symposium at Ball State University (Fall 2017).
The class ended during finals week in December of 2016, but the work still continues. I still promote the magazine through my social media accounts and our class may even have the opportunity to present at yet another conference in the spring.
This class has taught me to rethink my own biases as a reader, a teacher, and a writer. Not only does it prepare me to know about YA/children’s literature but it provided me with the tools to teach and write it in a way that does my students and future readers justice. When 70% of teachers are white, middle class and women, there is work that needs to be done to make sure that all students are learning things that relate to their own lives and experiences. When animals are portrayed more than people of color, there is work that needs to be done to make sure that every young person can see themselves in the literature that’s on the shelves.
The Digital Literature Review
DLR has allowed me to gain experience in design and research. The DLR class is a class that happens in two semesters, allowing students to essentially create an academic research journal that is focusing on one type of literature and or cultural phenomenon. The past topics have included circus, slaves and monsters. The current edition is focused on the post-apocalypse, which covers a number of issues including: global warming, natural disaster, economic collapse, zombie apocalypse, nuclear war and more. In the first semester, students focus on the theory and in the second semester, students really focus on constructing the journal and holding events around campus. There are three teams that students can work on, including: Design, Research, and Editing.
The team that I found myself in was Design. I love that I have been learning InDesign as well as how to convey my thoughts during class discussion and through writing. It has been inspiring to see my designs used on social media sites and to know that my thoughts are being taken seriously. This class has really taken me outside of my own experiences and has forced me to think about the world outside of Ball State more due to some of the recent, tragic events.
Jacket Copy Creative
Jacket Copy Creative is essentially the class that takes care of all of BSUEnglish’s online presence and marketing needs. There’s two sections of it. One section is more graphic design and something focused. The section that I am in focuses more on the storytelling aspect.
In this class, I am learning about marketing and communication in really useful ways. The class allows me to learn how to tell the story of BSUEnglish in a way that will resonate with audiences such as students, prospective students, faculty members, parents and friends of the department through things like tweets, facebook statuses, blogs, newsletters, emails, fliers and digital displays.
So why immersive?
In this day and age, you can’t afford to not take immersive learning classes. They are invaluable and will help you to become more prepared for the field you are entering. Even if the class doesn’t seem 100 percent applicable to your major or what you want to do after graduation, it can still help you to be a well-rounded and multifaceted person. This will help you have higher chances of being an ideal candidate for future jobs, internships and even full-time positions.
Many required classes will not allow you to go directly into an environment that is similar to your future workplace. Having that real life experience is so worthwhile, even if it bumps you from 15 to 18 credit hours.
All of this has come to change my experience here at Ball State.
If I would’ve taken Young Adult literature instead of taking a risk and taking Rethinking, I wouldn’t have been able to work with children or to read a large variety of diverse books. I wouldn’t feel as prepared to teach in a classroom. I wouldn’t have as much experience in writing, designing, research, marketing and communications either. A whole world of possibilities for post-grad life would not be as readily available to me.