Many university courses are taught in lecture rooms where students are passively listening to materials presented by instructors. Students’ ability to transfer their knowledge to real-world situations after graduation is assumed but not assessed. With the increasing demand placed on universities to demonstrate student-learning outcome, creative pedagogies to ensure student learning and transfer of knowledge into workforce are needed. This paper reports a creative pedagogy that requires students to work with community partners to solve a real-world problem and to produce a tangible product as evidence of their learning. This pedagogy is based on several learning theories: 1) experiential learning—students must work with community partners; 2) collaborative learning—the project must involve a group of students; 3) constructivist learning—the project must be student-driven; and 4) problem-based learning—students must solve a problem for the community partner. This pedagogy shifts the responsibility of learning to the students. The partnership with a local organization creates an authentic learning environment, and the requirement of a tangible product enforces student accountability. This immersive learning approach is different from “experiential learning”, “service learning”, or “internships” because of the additional requirements, including that it involves a group of students (preferably interdisciplinary); it is student-driven; it encompasses problem-solving skills; and it produces tangible products. This report describes three case studies in which immersive learning were incorporated into three information system courses. In the first case study, database management students designed and implemented databases for local small businesses. The second case study describes how students in a computer networking class researched free software tools on the Internet and conducted a training session for the staff of local nonprofit organizations. The third case study used a more extensive approach involving students from three departments to research cloud-computing technologies and to conduct three sessions of training on cloud computing for local nonprofit organization staff. The pros and cons of these approaches are discussed.
|Keywords:||Student-driven, Immersive Learning, Authentic Learning Environment, Constructivist Learning, Problem-based Learning, Collaborative Learning|
Associate Professor, Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA