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Distance Teaching with Service Learning and Civic Engagement BETA

A Toolkit from University of Maine at Augusta, and University of Southern Maine

Print Version of the Toolkit: uma.edu/faculty-cedoc

CE Project Sequence

Designing a Project: Faculty and Community Partners, Local and at a Distance

When faculty wish to design a project with a Community Partner themselves--such as with local or distance partners--then the following method may be useful:

  1. Craft your syllabus and course design upfront. It is critical that you have clear and measurable learning outcomes as this will create a kind of compass or guidepost for you and the community partner to navigate designing a service learning project together.   

  1. Once you have a clear idea what the course learning goals are, it’s time to meet with a community partner. You can find a partner through the local Chamber of Commerce or United Way office or through organizations like Volunteer Maine or Volunteer Match. Schedule a meeting with the partner a few weeks before class begins.

  1. Meet with the partner to discuss what your course covers and how you think you can help in a broad sense, based on your discipline and course goals. Give the partner room to identify where and how she feels she would be best supported by the students in your course. 

  1. Design the project template. Using the project cycle template, design the key elements of the project your students will do with the Community Partner. Be sure to include a time where students can meet with the Partner early in the process to brainstorm creative solutions and ask questions about the partner’s needs. Include target dates for each deliverable and meeting students will be expected to complete. Leave time for a review by the Partner and revision before the semester ends. 

Designing a Project: Student and Community Partner

When you wish for your students to design a project with a Community Partner themselves--such as with local or distance partners--then the following method may be useful: 

  1. Craft your syllabus and course design upfront. It is critical that you have clear and measurable learning outcomes as this will create a kind of compass or guidepost for your students to identify a good community partner and to craft a reasonable project proposal for you to consider. Be sure to include critical target dates for students that break down the project cycle into manageable components. Include any check-in times with the learner upfront, whether these are specific dates and times for group meetings, or a block of time (such as a calendar week) where students are advised that they will need to schedule a meeting with you. 

  1. In the early few days/weeks of your course, front-load students with the context of the learning goals and the project cycle. Give them time to process the expectation that they will be coming up with a project proposal and partner on their own and provide plenty of examples to unpack and review together. You may wish to use the project planning templates and community partner guidelines to help students with this piece. 

  1. Provide students with a clear understanding of the project proposal process. Advise students that they will need to identify a partner and pitch a project that meets both the Community Partner’s needs and the learning outcomes of the course. Students should be prepared to defend their proposal with reasoning and evidence as to why they believe their ideas meet the outcomes of the course. Be prepared over a block of class time to review all proposals and provide detailed guidance and feedback to students about how the project fits or could fit better with the course goals. 

  1. Be sure that the student introduces you to the partner (either in-person through technology or via email). Reach out to the partner separately to identify yourself and to provide the partner with an idea of how to reach out to you if they experience any hiccups with the process. 

  1. Design the project template. Using the project cycle template, design the key elements of the project your students will do with the Community Partner. Be sure to include a time where students can meet with the Partner early in the process to brainstorm creative solutions and ask questions about the partner’s needs. Include target dates for each deliverable and meeting students will be expected to complete. Leave time for a review by the Partner and revision before the semester ends.

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