From January to April 2011, the Communications Studies 463 course taught by Tania Smith at the University of Calgary partnered with Volunteer Calgary and the university’s Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) to create website content on the topic of service-learning.
This project, essentially, engaged a service-learning course to create communications about past local service-learning partnerships and experiences.
In the service-learning course, all 21 students participated in projects. Twelve students worked on web content for Volunteer Calgary, and nine students worked on web content for the Center for Community Engaged Learning. Students worked in teams of 4-5 students, each with a team coordinator. The instructor consulted with the community partner to set up the navigation structure for the web content, and created the template and style guides for the WordPress blogs where students wrote the web content.
After the planning phase was over, students’ research and writing took approximately 4-5 weeks. To gather information, non-coordinators each interviewed 2 people (organizations, instructors, students) to create journalism-based profiles and narratives for web pages. Students also studied and critiqued other service-learning websites so that they could write useful advice-giving or instructional content. Team coordinators then wrote introductory and middle-level navigation pages that introduced the more detailed content developed by their teammates.
Communication products as they currently exist online:
- CSL web content for Volunteer Calgary: http://volunteercalgarycsl.wordpress.com/
- CSL web content for U of C’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL):
After the web content was complete, student teams then each wrote a professional report that provided an overview and critique of their web content’s best features and provided the team’s collective reflection on their learning processes and outcomes.
In the future, a selection of the best and most useful pages of content may be used by Volunteer Calgary and the CCEL for external and internal communication on their own websites. In this way the project will help to advance service-learning program development locally. Students learned skills of team-based communication project management, rhetorical criticism, professional communication, and writing content for the web.
Outcomes have not yet been measured at the time of writing, April 2011, since the projects have just been completed and are in the process of being graded.
Course website: https://sites.google.com/site/coms463w11/