UConn cares about the well-being of the community and country. We are taking all the steps possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With Service Learning, we are reframing activities and projects with our community partners.
Here is a message from the office:
We have enjoyed connecting with many of you recently and we are hoping to connect more! This is a great reminder of how many important things are happening through the pedagogy and it is inspiring.
Some of you are already doing remote service learning, but for those of you who are switching from direct service to indirect or advocacy-based SL, here are some things that have been recommended. Each course is nuanced in its own way, so take these thoughts with a grain of salt and do what is best for you, your students and community partners.
1 - Communicate with the community partner
Check to see how the community partner wants to proceed for the semester. Given the circumstances, they a) may not be able to give any time, b) may have limited time, or c) may have an abundance of time!
If a) - NO TIME
Keep communications succinct and let them know that because they are involved in a service learning course the students will be transitioning to a different model of Service Learning. A few options will be provided for projects that are deemed to be helpful to the partner. Please provide an opportunity to accept feedback, but if they don't respond, the class can decide the project/s and they will be presented to them at the end of the semester in hopes that it can be used for their benefit. (This is questionable Service Learning practice, but in light of COVID-19 and knowing that some of these partners are healthcare agencies/facilities, the less burden we put on them right now, the better. This option is keeping with the spirit of Service Learning and continuing the learning despite the challenges.) Keep the partner updated at important intervals, as needed.
if b) - LIMITED TIME
Keep communications succinct and if the partner has said they want to stay engaged, please enable them to be engaged and interacting with the SL to the extent they can/want to be. New project ideas can be generated in collaboration with the community partner and the students. Projects can be presented at the end of the semester. Keep the partner included in emails to the extent necessary or wanted by the partner.
if c) - ABUNDANCE OF TIME
Keep communications efficient still, but if this partner has more time on their hands due to the current situation, working with them to this extent may bring a new spin to the class. Depending on the relationship and projects, this partner could present to students more in depth, depending on the situation. This partner could be well integrated with the class and provide insight to the project that would not have been possible had it not been for the new structure/re-framing of the project.
2 - Keep the transition simple
Use the same topic with a similar goal that can be utilized by the community partner in a different way. For instance, if a course was tutoring and mentoring one on one, perhaps students can create a video to teach the same (or similar) material and send it to the community partner use any time (now and in the future). The students can be really creative with it while providing the partner something to have and hold for the long term. Many of your partners will not be able to share this work in the immediate but it will be something they can use ongoing.
3 - Put your students in the driver seat
At this point in the semester, your students are well-familiar with the material and they are familiar with the community partner and their needs. Have your students brainstorm new options for service learning from a remote standpoint. What can they do to help push the project forward in a different and yet still meaningful and intentional way? Depending on your particular situation, pick the top three projects.
*keeping your community partners involved, please provide them the options and ask their feedback*
4 - Provide the community partner a SHORT list of options that can benefit them
Many of our partners are in crisis mode, and so in that light, and as usual practice, we want to make their jobs the most efficient as possible. Some of you may not be able to get in touch with your partners right now...don't worry about that at this time. For those of you who cannot get in touch with partners for one reason or another, brainstorm with your students the types of projects that would be most helpful to your partners and see 1a and 1b above.
5 - End of semester
At the end of the semester, presentations can still occur, just in a different format. Invite partners to attend and provide them with the finished product, to the extent that it is possible. If any projects are left unfinished, please consider asking one or more of your students if they would be interested in an independent study over the summer to complete it.
6 - THINKING ABOUT FALL SEMESTER
As faculty are preparing for next semester, consider the indirect, advocacy, or community based participatory research for a framework in developing your next class. If direct service is your main goal, having a back up plan to utilize remote-style service learning may be important still. This won't last forever, but until we are back to our normal way of life, we should have alternate plans.
Additionally, the office will online from 2:00 to 3:30 on Thursdays for any questions or an informal talk-space. A session like this will be held every Thursday afternoon until we return. If you have questions at any time, please send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use the information below.
Julia Yakovich's Personal Room
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Resources for Service Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic
How Service-Learning Instructors/Students Can Reflect on COVID-19
Continuing Service Learning Education Amid COVID-19
The following formation has been graciously provided by the Virginia Commonwealth University.
National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) Seminars *Free*
During this global pandemic, institutions are grappling with moving education online, including experiential education. The National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) will continue our tradition of offering free professional development webinars and resources to any experiential educators, regardless of membership status with the society.
During this semester, NSEE will provide a series of five free webinars that allow space for crowd-sourcing knowledge: We know that now is that time for us to learn from and plan with one another. Please join us to share your struggles, thoughts, needs, and plans for the future.
Friday, April 10th, Noon (EST)
Session 1: Roundtable Discussion with NSEE’s President
In this session, NSEE’s President and President Elect will host an interactive discussion with attendees to identify and crowdsource responses to pressing needs arising for experiential educators as a result of the global pandemic.
Friday, April 17th, 1 pm (EST)
Session 2: NSEE Conversations - Student Employees
In this session, practitioners will lead a conversation about institutions who are continuing to support student employees and work-study students online.
Friday, April 24th, 2 pm (EST)
Session 3: NSEE Conversations - Using Kolb's Experiential Learning Model to Guide the Design of Online Learning
In this session, we will discuss how practitioners can use Kolb's Experiential Learning Model to design online experiences for students. Attendees will have the opportunity to reflect on how they might apply Kolb's Model to their own online experiential learning activities.
Friday, May 1st, 3 pm (EST)
Session 4: NSEE Conversations - Where to Find Experiential Education Next
In this session, attendees will discuss the silver linings of moving experiential education online, including the potentially unexpected places experiential education will become embedded in, including first-year experiences and introductory courses.
Friday, 8th, 4 pm (EST)
Session 5: NSEE Conversations – Experiential Education Placement Vendors
In this session, attendees will hear from vendors that manage experiential education placements, as well as from practitioners who use these services. Find out how to connect classroom to industry projects through PBL, offer micro-internships, and domestic/ international virtual internships.
Please note that you must register for each session separately. Once registered, you will receive an email confirmation that includes a password. Please keep this password as you will need it to log into the meeting.
These and all NSEE events can be round on NSEE’s calendar here.