Service Learning: Share The Wealth
The theme for NCLC 249's service learning this semester is technology outreach, a sharing of experiences and knowledge of information and communication technologies within our wider regional community.
As Mark Warschauer notes, the building of social capital results both from exchanges of information and from the building of productive relationships, or from the initiating of tangible and intangible structures that will help to build and support those relationships. Remember exchange as a key term: as a volunteer you expand your social capital, especially if you are working in an area close to where you live, as well as augment that of others.
The Center for Leaderships and Community Engagement recommends that you choose your service placement site carefully:
- if you are already involved in community outreach, investigate opportunities where you are already engaged
- if you are passionate about a field (education, for example) or a cause (adult literacy, for example), follow that passion as you seek a placement. Research indicates that volunteers prove most successful when they tap their personal passions or commitments in their outreach work
- arrange interviews at three possible placements, if you can, as you need to find a placement which fits your capabilities, values and schedule.
- if you decide to pass on a placement you have researched and visited, tell others in the learning community about the opportunity, in case it might work for them
As noted on the syllabus, one-credit of service learning requires 45 hours of out-of-class work. However, that time includes preparation for service learning, reflection on that service learning (usually in class), and your preparation of a final reflection on your work (Short paper #4). Thus you should expect to spend 30 – 35 hours working at your service site. You must pass the service learning component to pass the learning community as a whole.
The CLCE web site highlights three particularly important aspects of service learning:
1) Be Aware of Your Environment
Remember you are a helper, a learner, and a visitor. The organization with which you are working has specific ways of interacting and getting things done. Be aware of these particularities and act appropriately. Do not assume you know how to do things or know more than the people who are there everyday.
2) Understand the Need for Confidentiality
Becoming personally involved with the agency clientele is a rewarding experience, but remember you may be dealing with sensitive information that is not to leave the agency. If there is any question as to whether you should share information... DO NOT! Speak with your contact person about their confidentiality policy. Additionally do not feel pressured to share personal information with clients.
3) Follow a Work Ethic
Remember your agreement to serve is a commitment to the agency. You will establish relationships with the agency clientele and they will look forward to seeing you. Agency staff will value the service you provide and count on your help. If you are going to be late or are unable to attend please call your contact person as soon as possible. Consider carefully the reason you might have for missing your meeting.
In addition, read all the remaining Service Tips on the CLCE web site as you prepare for your service learning.