Friday, July 13, 2012

The Power of Education: Service Based Learning

On a lunch break reading fest, I decided to put some of my thoughts out as I have garnered it all together: What are we doing right in Education? I think we are doing many right things. Chief among them is the learner centered focus most establishments are adopting. After all, if the learner fails to learn at least one thing, we are failing them. What aren't we doing? We have given them resources, we have given them projects, we ask them to blog and wiki and journal to their heart's content, but we do not always teach them how to apply it to the world. I began thinking about the trend for service based learning. Some groups adopt and incorporate service based learning naturally. Their discipline is primed for community service projects. However, what I most want to see, is a modeling of service based learning at a university level. In one institution, we have 200 or more brilliant professors and 10,000 or so bright and creative students who could power a think tank to solve a problem. Instead of reading a book, why not pick an issue and write a book. Have each discipline place research and summaries from their perspective on the issue. Give the leaders in the community a multifaceted view of the problem at hand with possible solutions. Such a compilation would be invaluable. We teach students how to find information everyday, but we do not teach them how to draw it together to solve something. Current trends involve group work in multiple industries. A project like this could teach them how to work in the world they will be heading into. A project like this could engage them in the world. Engagement=learning from all the metrics currently published. What better way to engage and demonstrate that things can change and each hand brings the change than a project set to solve for X in a current community problem. Water quality Unemployment Overcrowding Diversity issues Show them they have a voice on these issues, make their research matter, make a change.

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