Unconventional Delivery: Developing and Implementing Service-Learning in an Online Course

Unconventional Delivery: Developing and Implementing Service-Learning in an Online Course

T. J. Hendrix (University of Central Arkansas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5557-5.ch014
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As university programs compete to retain and increase enrollment, online courses are being created to meet the demands of a rising population of students with preferences for self-paced learning. The 2015 Babson Survey Research Group report tracking online education in the United States shows 70.7% of active degree-granting institutions open to the public have some distance-learning options. In the same report, two- and four-year public institutions offering distance learning course were reported to have “very high” rates of offerings for distance learning, with both showing over 90% of enrolled students taking at least one online course. This chapter examines the need to gap between content and application in online learning through service-learning and outlines a process for implementing service-learning projects with emphasis on e-service-learning. As distance learning continues to grow, the need for innovative pedagogical methods will also grow, which makes service-learning an attractive strategy.
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E-Service-Learning And Adult Learners

Service-learning provides students with experiential learning opportunities to engage in authentic experiences, active observation, reflection, and practice through community and civic involvement (Bossaller, 2016). E-service-learning is a pedagogical model that facilitates instruction and service online (Waldner, McGorry, & Widener, 2012). Waldner, McGorry, and Widener state that, E-service-learning benefits students because the limitations of service-learning, such as place-based access or geographical constraints, and online learning can be overcome by the marriage of the two pedagogies. In one study (Astin, Vogelgesang, Ikeda, & Lee, 2000) of 22,236 students at the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found students who participated in service-learning showed varying degrees of positive effects in eleven outcome measures including academic performance, self-efficacy, and leadership. Students who participate in service-learning reported feeling more prepared to practically apply knowledge (as cited in Waldner, McGorry, & Widener, 2012), better informed, more connected to the community, and more self-aware upon completion of their projects. Moreover, students participating in courses that included service-learning reported changes in how they viewed the population they served and planned to make service a permanent part of their lives (McClam, Diambra, Burton, Fuss, & Fudge, 2008). Campus Compact, a result of collaborations between Brown, Georgetown and Stanford universities and the Education Commissions of the states, is a supporting organization that specializes in promoting and advocating for service-learning in colleges and universities across the country to increase service and civic engagement within undergraduate and graduate course offerings through community partnerships for the purpose of preparing students to be informed and engaged citizens (Campus Compact, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distance Learning: Learning that is organized by a department or instructor using a course management systems (CMS). Distance learning can be asynchronous or synchronous depending on the course, objectives, and instructor.

E-Service-Learning: The use of online teaching technologies to engage in service-learning projects with distance learners in online learning communities.

Direct Service-Learning: Service learning that takes place on site with the community partner, instructor, and students working in together, in real time, to meet the objectives of the service project.

Adult Learner: Learners who are age 25 or older and are characteristically distinct from primary and secondary school learners, as well as traditional undergraduate learners in college.

Indirect Service-Learning: Service-learning that is completed by students at a distance or for a current or future project.

Service-Learning: A strategy for teaching and learning that combines meaningful service to a community group or agency with content specific instructional strategies and reflection, to strengthen connections between content and application in real-world situations, and cultivate life-long civic engagement.

Online Learning (Also E-Learning): Asynchronous learning that utilizes online teaching technologies (OTT), or course management systems (CMS) and may, or may not, be facilitated and managed by an instructor.

Andragogy: The pedagogy of teaching adult learners.

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