Engagement with partners is a core aspect of any community based class. With both universities and nonprofits shifting away from face-to-face interactions, this engagement will have to shift accordingly. Here are some of the crucial steps to take in addressing these changes:
- If you have not done so yet, contact your community partners and learn how to best support them. Many are no longer doing any face-to-face service; however, some still are, in which case students leaving campus might create a sudden burden through lack of volunteers.
- Determine the best path for moving community based teaching online (see resources below from our partners for some excellent suggestions).
- Come up with alternative ways to have students volunteer. Ask your community partners if your students can help with research, content creation, or virtual forms of connection, or if there is any other form of virtual volunteering that they can help with. Help them to create and post virtual opportunities, and share our best practices guide for planning virtual volunteer opportunities.
- Use this as an opportunity to dive deeply into student reflections. You may not be able to track hours, but you can activate your group wall and encourage students to discuss their experiences so far and their feelings at this time, getting a robust sense of how engagement has impacted their semesters thus far. This feedback will help you develop contingency plans now and plan for direct service going forward, and will also offer students an opportunity to engage with their community based learning in a different but still useful way.
Learn more about our team's response to COVID-19 here.