This website is an attempt to both summarize experience, and distill some useful observations from the incorporation of Service Learning into my Spring web design course in 2013 at Holyoke Community College.
In the Spring of 2012 Lisa Mahon approached my class with the chance to help out the Community Education Project in Holyoke with updating and improving their site. At the time I had three students who showed willingness to dive into this task. We overhauled the cosmetics to the approval of the director, Robin Hodgkinson.
At that time it was an informal arrangement. The following academic year (2012-213), I was recruited by Lisa to participate in the Service Learning Faculty Fellowship program held in conjunction with the UMass organization of the same name.
Returning to the CEP site for more updates and improvements, my students were able to meet with Carole Isakson of the South Hadley Food Pantry both in class, and on-site, and give their website our attention as well.
Goals of this semester were to instruct students in hands-on application of web design software to meet the needs of existing sites, either to redesign them or update content. The planning stages were guided by sensitivity to the nature of the mission each community partner fulfills, filling underserved population's needs in education and nutrition.
The class achieved basic literacy in using Dreamweaver to author websites, modify cascading style sheets, and use WordPress to create websites based on existing templates. They met with client organizations with and without direct supervision from myself. They also created personal websites of their own as a final project for the semester using Dreamweaver.
My students, the Service Learning partners, and myself have all provided feedback on our own perspectives of this outreach experience. Hopefully what we share here will be of value to others creating similar curriculums.
In my reflections on the course I go into the particulars on my personal experience, and assessment of this venture into Service Learning. I hope that if you, the reader, are embarking on a similar journey this will be of some value.
Pedagogy & Problem-Solving
My courses have always fallen heavier on the side of experiential learning, as I believe it is the doing of things that translates into our own transformations, wether that be on a pracitcal plane (adding to our 'toolkits') or in growing towards who we wish to be.
All media is problem solving. How do we assemble expression? In handling information/ideas/art in some sort of formal, organized fashion we're confronted with a task that demands creative solutions that aren't always obvious. The number of hats that an electronic media professional must wear nowadays is large... by definition, to fully engage in modern media is not for those seeking the ease of limited choices. For those people, there are many options to be found in the form of template-based web authoring (like WordPress), which for most who need not be bothered with the learning curve, delivers satisfactory, if not entirely original results.
To read more and view the schedule and syllabus, click over to the EMS 266 resource page.