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IL course planning - negotiating with the community partner

Posted on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

My co-teacher and I will teach our Information Literacy course, EDT 110, again beginning in January.  One of the questions I get most frequently about my class is about timing.  How long/far in advance should I start planning a service-learning partnership or course? Since we have worked with our community partner, Project READ, before, and there haven't been any staff changes or other issues to be concerned about, we will probably meet with them again in early November to negotiate a mutually beneficial research topic.  A topic that will be appropriate for our students, and fill a need at Project READ.  If it were our first time working with the partner, I would recommend meeting several months before the course, if possible.  This will help you familiarize yourselves with each other.  This also allows you plenty of time to request their precense in class the first day, for example, so the staff can give your students a brief orientation to what they do.  Then the students feel connected to the agency from the start.  A few tips about the negotiation of a mutually beneficial partnership, in the case of our class:

  • We will define our learning objectives again for Project READ (as a reminder).
  • We might ask the Project READ staff for a few possible topics, to be sure that one of them will be appropriate for the learning objectives of our course and our students' abilities.  It is important to ask Project READ what needs they have.
  • Another strategy might be to ask them what upcoming projects they have in the next year or so - that might help generate multiple research topic ideas.

Our students will also complete on-site service one Saturday during the course of the quarter.  It's a good idea to have this date set early, to give students enough notice to get off work, etc., and make sure the agency knows when they can count on us to be there to help well in advance.