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Community Engagement in Education: A Modern Approach

Discover the impact of community engagement in education. Learn how community-based learning boosts skills and transforms teaching.

Table of Contents

If you seek a timeless learning approach, consider community learning, also known as community-based learning (CBL). From community volunteerism activities in the past, and service-learning activities from top-performing schools, to the popular learning communities of today, the concept of community learning continues to thrive.

In this article, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of community learning, including its definition, principles, types, and benefits. You'll also learn how to create community-based learning for online live academies, micro-schools, corporate training, and courses.

Definition of Community Learning

At Teachfloor, we define community learning as a strategy where students learn "with" and "in" the community. It bridges the gap between theoretical frameworks and real-world practice, allowing learners to apply their knowledge and gain practical experience.

Community-based learning (CBL) emphasizes informal education and active learning, earning its reputation as a provider of "authentic learning experiences" in various cases.

In fact, community education, or CBL is one of the most effective learning strategies. Therefore, it empowers learners to go beyond mere theoretical understanding and reach higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

By engaging in community learning, students have the opportunity to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create knowledge. This approach allows learners to gain practical experience and develop critical skills in the workforce today, such as critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Community Learning
Source: Vanderbilt University

Benefits of Learning with Communities

1. Acquiring of Learning and Innovation Skills

In the 21st-century workforce, experts identified critical skills including learning and innovation skills, digital literacy, and career and life skills. By incorporating community-based learning in your learning environment, students can acquire the four evergreen skills:

  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving
  • creativity, and
  • collaboration

Nailing down these skills, your courses, training, and educational content can be life-changing to your students.

2. Promoting Student Engagement & Connections

Community learning is known for its "engagement experience." Since CBL involves group work with peers and the community itself, students become more engaged with the real-world scenarios, problems, and challenges of the communities.

Learners interact with the problem they are solving in their projects. This approach promotes student engagement, leading to higher knowledge retention and completion rates.

In hybrid programs, students engage with both the physical community and the online community. How does this happen? Let's take a look at how Georgia Audubon, a non-profit learning organization, uses a hybrid learning approach to implement their educational programs for their member volunteers.

Community Learning

Georgia Audubon allows members to take hybrid courses, which include in-field sessions to learn using their senses about how birds live with nature. Afterward, online discussions are implemented in Teachfloor's community dashboard to discuss the in-field activity.

Community Dashboard
Source: Teachfloor Community Dashboard
3. Boosting Emotional Intelligence and Self-Determination

This approach is not just about engaging students with each other and teaching them the skills needed for the workforce. More importantly, students gain a deeper understanding of themselves, the community, and the world through self-reflection with guidance from a facilitator or teacher.

Ultimately, reflection is the key element in implementing community-based learning in digital classrooms.

Principles of Community Education

Combined with the Scottish government’s principles and the Wisconsin model, here are the 11 Community Education Principles at a glance!

  1. self-determination and self-help
  2. leadership development
  3. localization
  4. integrated delivery of service
  5. maximum use of resources
  6. responsiveness
  7. lifelong learning
  8. empowerment
  9. participation
  10. inclusion, equality, and anti-discrimination
  11. partnership


Activities where you can implement a Community-Based Learning Approach

Whether you are a:

  • university running a career exploratory program,
  • organizing a volunteer experience for your students,
  • a Bootcamp implementing project-based learning for your learners, or
  • an individual researcher in need of community-based exploration

Here are some activities where community-based learning can be applied:

Experience-based career education programs

These programs provide students with hands-on learning experiences that are directly related to their future careers. Examples include;

Apprenticeship & Internship programs

Apprenticeships are where students work under the guidance of a skilled professional to gain practical skills in their field of interest. Through these programs, students not only gain practical skills but also develop valuable industry connections and real-world experience that will benefit them in their future careers.

Tech-prep Programs

Tech-prep programs combine academic instruction with technical training to prepare students for careers in technical fields. These programs often involve a combination of classroom learning and practical, hands-on training in areas such as engineering, computer science, or healthcare.

School-to-work

School-to-work programs aim to bridge the gap between education and the workforce by providing students with opportunities to gain work experience while still in school. Hence, these programs often involve partnerships between schools and local communities, allowing students to experience the community or business setup.

Practicums

Practicums are supervised, practical experiences that allow students to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. They are commonly used in fields such as education, nursing, and social work, where students work under the guidance of experienced professionals to gain practical experience.

Service-learning & Community Research

Service-learning combines community service with academic instruction, allowing students to apply their classroom learning to address community needs. Students engage in meaningful service activities that are directly related to the curriculum, while also reflecting on their experiences and connecting them to broader societal issues. Examples are:

Capstone projects

Capstone projects are culminating experiences that require students to integrate and apply their knowledge and skills to solve a real-world problem or complete a significant project. Therefore, these projects often serve as a demonstration of a student's mastery of their field of study and are typically completed in the final year of a degree program.

Community-based participatory research

Community-based participatory research involves collaboration between researchers and community members to address community issues and generate knowledge. Hence, this approach recognizes the expertise and lived experiences of community members and involves them in all stages of the research process, from problem identification to data collection and analysis.

Independent studies

Independent studies allow students to pursue self-directed learning in an area of interest that may not be covered in traditional courses. In fact, students work closely with a mentor or advisor to design and carry out their own research or projects, allowing them to explore their passions and develop valuable skills in self-management and critical thinking.

How to Create a Community-Based Learning on Teachfloor

As we emphasize on Teachfloor, the future of learning is community-based, and we are already living in that future. Community education is not limited to physical communities but also extends to online sustainable communities.

If you are interested in implementing the activities mentioned above using this approach, this guide provides a comprehensive step-by-step process for creating, building, and scaling your community programs using Teachfloor's all-in-one platform.

Here is a summary of the key strategies to build a community-based learning platform on Teachfloor:

  • Define the purpose and ideal member of your learning community.
  • Focus on a hyper-niche market to differentiate your community and create relevant content.
  • Brand your community platform on Teachfloor by customizing settings and adding your logo.
  • Choose a payment structure, such as a membership subscription model or a free-to-paid model.
  • Set up your community space on Teachfloor, including essential channels like announcements, introductions, and resources.
  • Write engaging posts to welcome and guide your community members.
  • Establish a code of conduct and community guidelines to maintain a respectful and supportive environment.
  • Create community rituals and organize events and workshops to facilitate learning and build relationships.
  • Utilize features like direct messaging, group chats, and the curriculum builder on Teachfloor.
  • Integrate Zoom for hosting live events and use the peer review and embed code features for enhanced learning experiences.
  • These strategies will help you create a thriving community-based learning platform on Teachfloor.

👉🏻 Read the Complete Guide by Teachfloor

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