The work that will be undertaken is built around four big pieces: aggregation, analysis, communication and collaboration.
There is no single digital space capable of aggregating real time information about the myriad student global service projects that happen year round and particularly in the summer. No individual student service organization has the capacity or the mandate to do this aggregation because these groups need to focus on designing the best possible experiences for their stakeholders and are usually working with resource constraints. The lack of aggregation is paticularly apparent when it comes to best practice sharing - there is no good place for student service groups to share what they've learned - so they don't.
In this commitment, Change.org will play the initial role of aggregator. Change.org is an online media hub and action network for social change and has the capacity and mission mandate to design online 'hubs' for information that not only generate unique content, but can aggregate information from other websites as well. Here, Change.org will provide the online tool to aggregate ideas, experiences, and project-specific knowledge of the students undertaking global service projects by connecting their writings and reflections.
Student service organizations also tend not to do much analysis when it comes to lessons learned and best practices. There is a tendency to view the date when the project implementation ends as the date when the program ends. In reality, every student service project should go through a period of reflection and debriefing in which service groups can extract best practices. During the analysis phase, student writings and projects undertaken over the summer will be coordinated to translate best practices, challenges, and project case studies. The analysis will be conducted by the organizations GlobeMed, Student Movement for Real Change, Global Brigades, Manna Project International, and Center for Global Engagement.
A key to regularizing this type of analysis - particularly among student-led projects - is a common format for analysis. A basic set of reflection tools and a common 'Curricular Module' format makes it simple and easy to write up and share best practices and lessons learned. The Curricular Module will include:
a. A Write Up or 'Case Study' that comes from a specific student project experience
b. A set of discussion questions and/or activities
c. Suggestions for further reading
Communication and Collaboration:
When there is the ability to aggregate learning about student service projects and the templates to help individuals put that learning into sharable curricular modules, what's left is the ability to distribute that information and use to it to better coordinate activities to actually increase impact on the ground. All member organizations within this initiative will play a role in distributing the curricular modules to their network, students, and the university community. When best practices can be translated to curricular models, it changes everyone's ability to change the world.
1. Online Hub Design: March-May 2009- Design original content model - identify which projects and which students will be creating original content for globalservice.change.org over the summer
- Determine aggregation model - develop mechanisms to draw in content from other blogs and other sites
- Conduct partner outreach - get student service groups to sign on as part of the project through a basic application process
2. Prototype Curriculum Preparation for Summer 2009: March-May 2009
- Determine 4-7 most important curriculum content areas (i.e. cultural sensitivity, metrics, etc.)
- Distribute prototype work across content partners
- Produce Final Modules by April 1, for use in workshops, seminars, trainings, etc.
3. Summer Service Project Aggregation and Tracking: June-August 2009
- Aggregate student produced content like blogs and videos
- Have stellar students/projects create individual blogs for the globalservice.change.org hub
- Produce a weekly 'round-up' to keep track of ongoing lessons
4. Analysis, Review and Curriculum Design: September-December 2009
- Distribute project review and curriculum modules template
- Work with individual projects to determine best practices and lessons learned
- Finalize curricular modules
5. Distribution and Coordination: January-March 2009
- Place curriculum modules in a common online hub
- Use conferences, events, and workshops to distribute modules
- Explore collaboration possibilities based on demonstrated core competencies
This commitment will be measured against the following targets:
- Number of prototype curricular modules developed: 5
- Number of curricular modules developed in 2009: 50
- Number of training sessions held around these topics: 50
- Number of student projects participating in summer service blog aggregation: 100
Student volunteerism has been on the rise for a decade or more. At universities around the country, programs on international development and social entrepreneurship are on the rise, curriculum is becoming more experiential, study abroad is rapidly becoming the rule rather than the exception, and service is being embedded in the undergraduate experience.
Yet while its clear that this work is effective in transforming the way that students see the world, it is less clear that student global service actually makes a difference on the issues it tries to address. There is no common framework for evaluating whether student action is effective or not. There is no commonly accessible cannon of best practices, case studies, or lessons learned, and there is no curricular database that student service groups can draw from to build their participant's capacities to design and implement effective social change projects.
Volunteer organizations to develop and translate best practices and case studies into curricular modules: web development, recruitment support, media support.
This initiative provides students with structured skill-sets and insight into the field of global community development. Within this framework, students at various levels can refer to a curricular structure that will guide them in designing and implementing their projects and taking responsible and effective action.