Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tech support for community- and service-learning

FBProjectCan we grow service like this?
by SCSpaeth via Flickr
Nancy Scola proposes an approach to a problem that the District Service-Learning Leadership Team has considered: Could a "Craigslist for Service" Actually Work? She considers several pros and cons for this strategy. She solicited Craig Newmark's opinion, too:

That's enough from me. Let's hear from an expert: Craiglist founder Craig Newmark. I asked him for his take:

Many people in the US want to do more to help other people, not just the new "civic generation" but people across all ages and background. I feel we need both top-down and bottom-up means of getting people together to do so. The bottom-up version would involve online tools which would get people together to spontaneously connect, possibly via existing social networking tools. We're all busy, but now and then we have free time, and a good grassroots, local tool would be great.

Nils Peterson supports Scola's idea:

Light-weight volunteer organizing can work

You are on the right track.
Mid-way down this post are examples that are already underway or show promise.

Further, our experience with these ideas at Washington State University, is that courses can be re-designed so that the learner-volunteer taps the resources of the class (faculty, peers, materials) to apply them into an authentic (and personally motivating) problem.

We discussed this issue at the last Service-Learning Leadership Team meeting and observed that Brunswick has made progress on developing the desired culture:
Mary recommended Brunswick High School's implementation of Community and Service-Learning and pointed to its web-based support: BHS Community Service. Barb noted that the Brunswick community has developed a culture around service so that students are looking for opportunities with support from the community.
But we also noted that the database needs updating.
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1 comment:

Nils Peterson said...


You might be interested in a couple things we just posted related to assessing service learning.

One is thinking about institution-based vs community-based learning -- its a discussion like Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0.

Another is the way we are beginning to use surveys embedded in student work out on the web (Gary called it Harvesting Gradebook).

Lastly, on that page, look at the community discussion. We are seeing evidence of discussion more focused on the critical thinking constructs than we used to see in designed threaded discussion-based courses, such as Theron's HD course. More of that data when I get a chance to post it.