On Digital Service-Learning & Collaborations

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This is a bit of a delay of an update but my colleague and friend, Dr. Danielle Leek and I published an article in April and I really share it and talk about it.  I had the glorious luck of getting to meet Danielle when I was taking a Civic Engagement course at UMASS Boston taught by Dr. John Saltmarsh.  We had some solid interaction but it would be months later when Danielle reached out to me to chat as she started a new job in the realm of academic technology that we really started to talk, share ideas, and collaborate.  

Over the last few years, we have given presentations at conferences, run day-long workshops, and had many a great conversations.  There are many great conversations for us to have--our academic and personal Venn Diagrams are strong.  However, one area that we knew we had a lot to say was about digital service-learning.

Obligatory paragraph on service-learning and what digital service-learning is.  Service-learning is a pedagogical approach in courses that look for the course as a whole or some part of it to be paired with a community partner through which a mutually beneficial experience can be derived. This often entails a mixture of service (working with the community partner) and learning (among the students, the community partners, and their particular communities they serve).  It's a powerful approach to learning that puts students into the real world with the work that they do.  Digital service-learning is an approach that same concept but considering the ways in which projects that have digital technology as a central medium of creation, collaboration, or output are likely to change and impact the experience for everyone.  Ultimately, a broader conversation with additional considerations is needed.  
Screenshot of the article on the Educause Review Page--text details are also provided down below

As we worked on this topic over the years, we realized there was an article to be written that helps to explain some of the contours of digital service-learning.  Starting last year as the pandemic hit, we decided that now was the time to write that article and in order to do so, we had to commit time.  So, 30 minutes a week on Friday mornings we met.  We did some work outside of that time, but committed to meeting most Fridays and making slow but steady progress.  We finished the article in March and had already determined that EDUCAUSE Review would be the prime first place to consider publishing it as we thought their audience (people in educational technology) would be the people who needed to better understand the challenges around service-learning, especially during COVID.  We wrote it, we submitted it, and they loved it (we hoped they would but were also super surprised and stoked!).  

I've written before that co-writing an article has a certain magic to it that--at least for me--can make it not just feel more doable but also help me get out of the too-many ideas/too-many directions mode.  It also creates an awesome accountability partner and co-editor to keep both folks writing in a cleanner manner  than we might otherwise.  Anyways, it's another collaboration that has bore wonderful fruit, which means I crave doing it all the more.  

Enjoy reading!

Supporting Digital Service-Learning through Campus Collaboration

By Lance Eaton & Danielle Leek

Brief description: Expanded online and remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic allows campuses to support and collaborate on digital service-learning projects, creating opportunities to expand service-learning and, in doing so, play a pivotal role in enhancing the learning of students, faculty, and staff for years to come.  


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