Sunday, August 30, 2009

UIUC: Service Learning Resources

by Ann Abbott

I feel a twinge of jealousy when my friend and colleague, Darcy Lear, talks to me about the service learning center at her institution (even though it is currently undergoing consolidation and transformation). At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, service learning is done individually, sporadically, and with the resources that you yourself can put together.

But there is one bright light at the campus-wide level: Valeri Werpetinski at the Center for Teaching Excellence. Our campus now has an active webpage featuring programs and resources for anyone on campus who is interested in starting a service-learning course, maintaining on or building on what they already have. Click here to see the service learning page.

Here are some features from the page and events planned for this semester.
  1. Service learning workshop plus reading group for this fall (click here to see details). My teaching schedule this semester overlaps a bit with these events, but I will still attend. I love the fact that Val has planned the reading group around the topics of international and multicultural service learning. And the workshop's focus on reflection coincides with the work my thesis students did last year, so I have many thoughts (and questions!) for that event.

  2. Service-learning Consultation Services. If you need some one-on-one time to walk through the process of creating or assessing your service-learning program, Val offers personal consultation.

  3. Citizen Scholar Certificate. Completing the steps of this certificate guarantees that you will finish with a solid understanding of the issues and best practices of service learning. I know, because I did it myself! It's a great opportunity for graduate students to show on their cv the depth of their knowledge about service learning.

  4. Engaged Illinois. Val created a social networking site, and she shares great resources from national sources. I have found great teaching materials, calls for papers and funding opportunities here. You don't have to be from UIUC to benefit from joining the group.

  5. Discussion Board. Even though Val puts together wonderful workshops, sometimes you want to continue the conversation "after the bell." And sometimes, you just can't make it to the in-person meetings. So I was delighted to see that Val had set up a discussion board. Just a few minutes ago I subscribed to it and submited a discussion question. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people post.

  6. More. There is a lot more on the service-learning page. Thanks, Val, for your hard work and smarts.

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