Friday, October 31, 2014

Spanish Community Service Learning, Civic Engagement, Transcultural Competence and Technology

by Ann Abbott

In two weeks I will visit the University of South Florida in Tampa for their campus' Service Learning Day. I had a wonderful conversation with Lance Arney and Dr. Soria Colomer about what they and their colleagues would like to hear about and discuss. It became clear very quickly that people want to know more about how to help students engage with people of different cultural backgrounds in effective ways. And we are not just talking about national cultures; students need to be supported as the encounter many kinds of difference in their community service learning work so that they can understand, learn and grow.

Lance put together the following to send to faculty, and I wanted to share it because I think it is very well articulated and shows us what faculty really want to learn, what barriers they feel they need to overcome in order to do service learning and do it well.

Keynote speech: “Don’t Just Teach! Engage Students in Communities”: Engaging Students in Civic Action through Service-Learning in Culturally Diverse Communities

Student success is more than academic achievement. It is helping our students become community engaged global citizens. How do we accomplish this? One way is through the “high-impact practice” of service-learning, which, through experiential learning in real world contexts, increases the likelihood that students will experience diversity; through critical reflection, compels students to analyze their own relationships to other people and the world; and, through civic action, cultivates in students a more committed sense of social responsibility and ethical sense of personal agency.

To discuss concrete ways to produce these “high impacts” in practice, we invited as our Service-Learning Day keynote speaker Dr. Ann Abbott, an award-winning Spanish language educator who regularly publishes about service-learning and the connections among language, cultures, professional contexts, and course content. Dr. Abbott will share innovative approaches to service-learning that she uses to help her students gain intercultural competence, acquire strategies for working with cultural differences, and understand the subtleties of cultural conflicts. Additionally, Dr. Abbott will explain the importance and benefits of moving students beyond volunteerism to civic activism through course-based service-learning.

Afternoon “workshop”: “Students, Turn On Your Cell Phones and Open Facebook”: Using New Media and Technology to Enhance Service-Learning: An Engaged Conversation with Ann Abbott, Ph.D.

Students love using technology and social media. Ever wonder how to take advantage of that to enhance your students’ community engaged learning? Then join us for a discussion with Dr. Ann Abbott, who will facilitate an engaged conversation about incorporating new media into service-learning, as well as using technology to get students into the community and the community into the classroom.

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