Service Learning as an E-Learning Paradigm for Technology Higher Education

Professor Bruce Saulnier
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"To teach is to create a space where the community of truth is practiced". In this brief quote noted educational philosopher and Berkeley alumnus Parker Palmer provides us with a moral compass for effectively addressing the interrelated agendas of education, community, spirituality, and social change.

But how can we create a "community of truth" in an e-learning setting, an environment that by its very nature pushes us in the direction of individual isolation rather than in the direction of community? How can we foster holistic education in an environment that tends to be overly content-driven?

Efforts to develop model curricula in Computer Information Systems have placed heavy emphasis on "what" should be taught in various courses or learning modules, but little attention has been given to the pedagogical issue of how best to deliver the course content to both (1) maximize student learning of content while (2) simultaneously addressing larger societal and educational issues. The use of a Service Learning approach to teach Computer Information Systems e-students has the potential to develop information systems professionals who possess the skill set necessary to succeed in the information systems field and who also understand the civic responsibility associated with being educated corporate and community citizens. This paper makes the case for employing Service Learning as an educational paradigm in Computer Information Systems education. L. Dee Fink's taxonomy of "Significant Learning" is presented and Service Learning is defined and discussed. The case is made for using a Service Learning approach for today's college students. Examples of Service Learning in Computer Information Systems courses are presented at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is shown that using a Service Learning approach yields significant learning in Computer Information Systems education.

Keywords: Computer Information Systems Pedagogy, E-Learning, Service Learning, Significant Learning, Technology Education
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Service Learning as an e-Learning Paradigm for Technology Higher Education

Professor Bruce Saulnier

Professor of Computer Information Systems, Lender School of Business (SB-DNF), Quinnipiac University

Professor Bruce Saulnier actively seeks to be engaged in "scholarly teaching"; that is, his teaching methods are informed by the scholarship of teaching and learning. As a consequence he has shifted from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered instructional pedagogy. He actively involves his students in the learning process, having long ago abandoned the lecture as the dominant classroom paradigm. In introductory courses Bruce's students learn-by-doing and actively relate the course material to their lives as students. In doing so they address larger development issues such as personal responsibility for decision making and their own learning, what it means to be an effective student, and ethical dimensions of information technology. Consistent with "learner-centered" pedagogy, Bruce does not "teach" computer information systems; rather, he "uses" computer information systems to teach his students. Students learn much more than computer information systems. They become reflective practitioners relative to the higher education learning process. Bruce's upper level courses use a Service Learning pedagogy. For example, in Systems Analysis and Design students learn the principles of improving organizational information systems by working in project teams examining existing real systems in real organizations.

Ref: T05P0061