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  • Writer's pictureJanet Federico

Review: Immersion by Bonnie Christine


An image showing the logo for Bonnie Christine's Immersion Course.

From the beginning of my surface pattern journey, I’d been told I needed to take Bonnie Christine’s Immersion course. That I “had to learn Illustrator” to be a successful pattern designer or get licensed. While you can be very successful without ever using Illustrator, the opportunity arose for me to take Immersion, so I did. 


Now, full disclosure: Immersion costs just under $2,000 (I couldn’t find my receipt to give you the exact price). I received a grant from a local cultural trust, which allowed me to take this course. I would not have had the funds for it otherwise. 


What the Course Gets Right


Interactivity

The Immersion course is very interactive and on par with Color Camp from Studio Xhico. Every lesson has a “Take Action” section designed to imprint the lesson’s material and give you tangible exercises to build upon during the course. For example, when Bonnie talks about using the pencil tool in Illustrator, the Take Action section of that lesson has you then using the pencil tool to create a shape, and so forth. This is true throughout the entire course. 


Chunking of Content

The Immersion course does a great job of breaking the content into relevant groups so that topics are logically grouped together. There are eight modules:

  • Foundations

  • Gathering Inspiration

  • Illustrator Essentials

  • Illustrator Advanced

  • Pattern Mastery

  • Designing in Collections

  • Income from Your Art

  • Creative Entrepreneurship


Each module is then broken into smaller lessons. This structure makes it easier to return to a lesson and repeat content if needed.


Length

The Immersion modules are broken down into smaller lessons, with each individual lesson having a group of related ideas. For the most part, Bonnie sticks to the best practice recommendation of eight to ten minutes per video. There are, however, runs of lessons that are only 3-4 minutes long, and some of the Illustrator tool lessons are over 20 minutes. Overall, however, the content is highly consumable. 


Reinforcement

One thing Immersion has above all other courses I’ve taken is the use of reinforcement throughout the course. Once Bonnie teaches you a command, for example, the keyboard shortcut for the Rotate tool is the R key. From then on, every single time - and I do mean every single time - Bonnie uses the Rotate tool, she either states it’s the R key on the keyboard, or there is a fly-out that highlights the keyboard shortcut. This is above and beyond the seven needed repetitions for a piece of information to move from short-term to long-term memory. It’s stellar, and I was very impressed by it. 


Pacing

Immersion is billed as an eight-week course. If you are a full-time artist, that may be doable for you. For someone like me, whose silent investor job is full-time, I don’t have that amount of time to devote to the course. So, color me pleasantly surprised to see that Bonnie provides a 6-month and a 1-year roadmap through the course. I went into the program knowing I wouldn’t keep up, but seeing those learning plans immediately allowed me to relax and not feel alone or othered because I couldn’t follow the eight-week schedule. Kudos to the Immersion team for that.


Collateral

Hands down, Immersion offers the best collateral of any course I’ve taken so far. The IRL happy mail with a tangible spiral-bound workbook, notebook, stickers, and other goodies made you feel like you were a part of something right out of the gate. When so many classes are fully online and asynchronous, to have something tangible (that I didn’t have to print myself or pay to have bound) was an added touch that hit me in unexpected ways. I hadn’t realized how disconnected other classes feel until I got Bonnie’s package. 


I realize not every class has the margins to absorb the costs of physically producing something that is then mailed, but for the $2,000 price tag that comes with Immersion, I don’t think it’s a reach. It’s a new bar for me in my continuing education with which other classes will now compete. 


What Could Be Improved


Tracking of Completion

One aspect of Immersion that I found truly annoying was the lack of tracking for modules I’d completed. In other courses I’ve taken, once I completed a lesson - usually by watching a video all the way through - the lesson was marked completed automatically. This was useful in helping me know at a glance which videos I’d already watched. Immersion doesn’t mark any lessons completed. The student must manually click a lesson to mark it complete. 


When I emailed this question to Team Bonnie, the response I received was that a student may need to revisit a lesson many times before they feel confident enough in it to mark it complete. I get that in principle, but I can rewatch a video many times regardless of whether it’s marked complete. 


I found this particular design decision very frustrating, mainly because my schedule didn’t allow me to dedicate whole weeks of time to doing the course. It took about four months to work through all the material. Sometimes, days and even whole weeks could pass before I went back to watching the material. So, if I forgot to mark a module complete, I rewatched something I’d already seen, which cost me valuable minutes when I had very little time in my day to give to watching Immersion.


Chunking of Content

Bonnie chunks her content up a little too much, in my opinion. If you get my newsletter, The Perch, where I write about online course optimization, you know I advocate for chunking your content into the recommended eight to ten minutes, with each lesson containing not more than four ± two ideas. However, some Immersion modules have 30+ lessons, and the videos may be only three minutes long. This is great for completion rates but can be overwhelming if you want to complete an entire module. Add in the aforementioned lack of tracking, and seeing 34 lessons sometimes made me close my laptop down and return another day. Personally, I think that more modules with fewer lessons would have solved this. 


MVP (Most Valuable Part)


Workbook

The workbook, a vital component of the course, is impeccable. It seamlessly follows the course flow, documents all the calls to action, and provides a dedicated space for personal reflections and notes. After completing the video modules, I am revisiting the workbook and using it to complete all the exercises. 


Having something tangible to use made me more emotionally invested in the course. Additionally, the other goodies were a nice added touch that I’ve continued to use since completing the course.


Verdict: Worth It

Immersion is worth the cost of entrance. Bonnie provides a wealth of information, an optimized learning environment for absorbing the material, and just enough added touches that the investment is well worth it. 


Immersion added a new dimension to my pattern creation workflow. I've begun turning to Illustrator for all my patterns suited to image trace. I've used it to create unique background textures, and that recolor tool is a beast! Creating new and unexpected colorways is a snap. Illustrator now has a permanent place in my pattern creation tool kit. I definitely recommend adding this course to your library.

 

Janet “Toni” Federico, PMP, MBA, MFA, is an illustrator, surface designer, writer, and curriculum designer from Washington, DC, now based in the Midwest. Toni helps online course creators optimize their content to ensure students learn what is being taught. Toni’s courses have been used by the State of Texas, major insurance companies, and in her own work as a teaching artist.


Are you an online course creator looking to optimize your courses to set your students up for success? Get Toni in your inbox.



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