Sunday, April 6, 2008

Should Spanish & Illinois Apply for a Federal Grant on Service Learning?

That's the question that I am asking myself right now.

The Corporation for National and Community Service has an RFP for a "College Student Social Media Initiative," and the proposals are due May 7. The purpose of the grant is to: " the facilitation of better engagement of college students in service through social media.
Some examples of social media include: social networking (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, Ning, or integrating social networking capacity into existing sites), wikis, podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds, mashups, social bookmarking, widgets, etc. Successful applicants must demonstrate how their program can use these tools to engage increased numbers of college students, especially in partnership with other nonprofit or for-profit entities."

On the one hand, I feel like this is a perfect fit for Spanish & Illinois; we have this blog, student reflective writing is done on a blog, and oral student reflections are posted on YouTube (privately). Ann Bishop is a very supportive colleague and could potentially provide consultation from her expertise in community informatics. ATLAS (our college's tech team) could provide technical support.

On the other hand, it's a short time period to get all the elements pulled together--a partnership with not-for-profits, matching funds, and institutional support. I also need to learn some more about all the types of social media mentioned in the rfp.

Another curve: Marcos Campillo Fenoll, a SPAN 232 (Spanish in the Community) TA who is an active blogger himself, recently sent me an e-mail telling me that he discovered amongst his students in the community-based learning course that they don't blog and don't read blogs. (Read his post on this subject.) And, horror of horrors: I only have one subscriber to this blog--Marcos himself! However, he also wrote about professors and students using Facebook, which gives me a little more hope that using social media could in fact increase the number of college students engaged in service: the grant's goal.

So, I have my ideas about using social media to engage college students in service. Marcos, a TA, has shared his perspective. Now I'd like to see the students' perspective. I would like my student bloggers--Liz and Chris--to comment on the following in their post this week:

1. Of the social media listed in the grant rfp (see the second paragraph of this post), which do you actually produce (write, upload, etc.)? Which do you consume (read, view, etc.)?

2. Do you think that we could use social media to "recruit" more students to engage in community-based learning?

3. Do you think we could use social media to actually deliver students' services to partner organizations and their clients/students?

4. If you can, include a picture of yourself at the computer producing or viewing a type of social media listed in the rfp.

I have included here pictures of myself blogging at my computer at home. I would like to use this blog to be of service to other instructors of Spanish who are doing community-based learning or thinking about it. And the grant--whether I get it or not--has me thinking about ways to use this blog--or something else--to actually engage the community partners and community members that our students are already serving and/or extend those services to new communities.

p.s. Thanks to Dean Karen Carney for brainstorming with me about the grant, and thanks to Val Werpitinsky for sending out great weekly e-mails about service learning that include publishing and grant opportunities.

Update 1
Click here to read Liz's response and Chris's response.

Update 2
I did enter a proposal. We're supposed to find out the results in late July. I'm crossing my fingers!

No comments:

Post a Comment