Research Study Results

In a research study (Cassady, 2014) of students using Crossroads Connect as their fourth grade social studies curriculum:

  • 64% of the students said, “I thought it was easy to read the information in the iPad text.”
  • 52% of the students said, “I learned new things from the pictures in the iPad text.”
  • 50% of the students said, “The videos helped me better understand the main ideas of the text.”
  • 64% of the students disagreed with the statement, “I got bored reading the information in the iPad text.”
  • 68% of the students said, “This was a better way to learn this information than our usual textbooks.”
  • 72% of the students said, “I wish more of my classes used this kind of learning material.”
  •  87.5% of the students said, “The iPad text made learning more fun than with a usual textbook.”

A Closer Look

Now that you a rough understanding of our program it is time to give you the details of our particular project. The textbook is designed so that it will cover Indiana standards while still providing extra information from first person accounts and primary sources. The book is split up into four separate Units which we plan on selling individually once our product reaches completion. These Units will be made up of three chapters each with three lessons that focus in on specific periods of Indiana history. The textbook will provide an engaging and in-depth tour of Indiana as it progresses from untamed wilderness into the bustling state we know today.

The first lesson of the book which discusses Indiana's earliest ancestors.

The first lesson of the book which discusses Indiana’s earliest ancestors.

In the first Unit we cover the time period from ancient Indiana to the trials of early settlers in the Northwest Territory. In the opening chapter of this Unit we discuss Indiana’s ancient ancestors which were called Paleo-Indians. These early peoples would be the ones responsible for the giant earthen graves which gave Mound’s State Park in Anderson, Indiana its name. In the following chapter the encroachment of Europeans is examined. It is during this collision of the Old World and the New that we see Indiana heroes such as George Rogers Clark emerge. The Unit closes out with information on the Northwest Territory. This early stage of Indiana history is where the very framework of statehood is created with the Northwest Ordinance of 1785.


In Unit 2 the transformation of Indiana from Territory to Statehood is showcased across the three chapters. In the first, the Indiana Territory is created from the pieces of the former Northwest Territory. During this time-period the conflict between Native Americans and early Indiana Settlers is brought to a head in Tecumsah’s Rebellion. The second chapter discusses the early statehood of Indiana and the issues it faced. Also featured is an in-depth profile on Indiana’s first governor Jonathan Jennings. The Unit finishes in Chapter three with the Civil War. Here students will learn about the struggle of African American slaves and learn about John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raid into Indiana.

Our third Unit which follows Indiana through the turbulent World War's and the Cold War era.

Our third Unit which follows Indiana through the turbulent World War’s and the Cold War era.

Next in Unit 3 focuses on the turbulent 20th conflicts that would soon face the state. The first chapter leads us through Indiana’s Golden Age. It is during this time we see the rise of the automobile with the first running of the Indianapolis 500. Afterwards students follow Indiana as it struggles in the depths of the depression and both World Wars. In this period of great unrest the second rising of the Ku Klux Klan under D.C. Stephenson begins and African Americans begin the Great Migration to urban centers. In addition there are several profiles on notable Hoosiers such as Ernie Pyle who spread their Indiana roots across the globe. The Unit ends as the United States enters into the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The chapter hopes to spread light on a hectic period of time in Indiana called the “Red Scare,” a time period where people saw communists hiding around every corner.

The table of contents for our 4th Unit. (The cover for the 4th Unit is still in production.)

The table of contents for our 4th Unit. (The cover for the 4th Unit is still in production.)

Unit 4 takes a slightly different approach as it introduces students to Indiana as it is today. The chapters in this unit focus on government, economics and the basic geography of Indiana. In the first chapter, the geography of Indiana, the physical features of Indiana are examined. This chapter includes information on Indiana’s bio-,hydro-, and lithospheres as well as highlighting places for nature recreation throughout the state. Following this chapter the book transitions into information about Indiana’s government. In this chapter students learn about the state’s constitution, local and historic Indiana legislatures as well as what they can do as a citizen. The book ends with a look at Indiana in the business world of today. It first showcases Indiana’s manufacturing capabilities then the new technologies being developed throughout the century and Indiana’s role in the international

Despite the large scale of the book the content is kept fresh and interesting with multiple features. By using a digital medium our team was able to add in several features which otherwise would be impossible in the standard physical textbook. For instance, the vocab definitions are distinct and when clicked display the definition right on screen, eliminating the monotonous flipping back and forth between the lesson and glossary. The readings are broken up with informative videos which display historical sites, reenactments and interviews with academic professionals. We hope that these features alongside our rich historical text will provide fourth graders with a learning tool that is both interactive and informative.

-Hayden Shaw

An Introduction


“Education Redefined” has been the go-to slogan of Ball State for the past few years. Billboards stand out in their bold cardinal red proclaiming this credo in large, bold white letters. Before I joined Ball State these giant advertisements that lined the highways throughout the state were of little interest, just another advertisement on the road. When I became a student these words took on new and enhanced meaning as I transitioned from high school to college life. It changed once more when I decided to enroll in an immersive learning program.

Immersive learning is when students engage in real world situations. The projects undertaken by students often relate to what they will be doing in their professional careers. Immersive learning helps to develop critical thinking, teamwork, and provides professional experience. According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities employers desire each of these qualities

“Scholars to become engaged citizens and citizens to pursue lifelong learning,”

Ball State Immersive Learning has a rich history. The Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry is named after Virginia B. Ball a philanthropist who valued education. She established the program in 2000 in hopes that it would help forge connections between the University and local Muncie community. “[She] worked to enable scholars to become engaged citizens and citizens to pursue lifelong learning,” says Joe Trimmer current director of the Virginia Ball Center. The program is housed off campus in the Kitzelman Center. This beautiful mansion covers almost 3 acres and was built by Scudder Atkins in 1927. The house was originally built for Muncie industrialist E. Faye Kitzelman but was donated to the University by his children in 1956. The mansion is equipped with state of the art technology including a projector room, computer lab, multiple offices and a kitchen big enough to feed an extended family. The house has been undergoing almost constant and steady renovation as the program grows in popularity.

The projects undertaken in the program are as different as the students involved themselves. The groups of students that sign up to work on these immersive opportunities contain a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. In my own group we range from anthropology to telecommunications and from Indiana to Iowa. The hard work of the students involved often earns them great prestige and as a result the Kitzelman center is decorated with awards. One project titled Increasing the Odds a documentary on creating and sustaining your own business, won an Emmy for Photography. Another documentary on assault cases and forensic experts won an Emmy for Editing. Then there is the Other Side of Middletown project which won the Margaret Meade award for its ethnographic information on Muncie, Indiana’s African American Community.


This leads us finally to the project that my team is working on currently at the Virginia Ball Center. Our focus is on writing a factually correct and interactive digital textbook for fourth grade students in Indiana. Large publishing companies have little interest in Indiana and it reflects in the textbooks that they write. These books are often written by people who have never been to Indiana and typically include basic factual misinformation. Working through local partners such as the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Museum, Conner Prairie and the Eiteljorg Museum and with the help of leaders in the Indiana history community our team hopes to put together an affordable, accurate and entertaining textbook that kids will want to read.

- Hayden Shaw