This type of activity places students in the community, and does not require any formal agreement between the university and the partner. The experience is primarily for the edification of the student, and generally takes the form of an interview or observational activity. Unlike academic community service learning, the student does not take on responsibilities with the partner, and therefore there is less time and commitment required of all parties involved. These experiences allow students to relate the course material to practical applications within the community. They are also afforded an opportunity to make professional connections and gain deeper insights into the course material. Within community learning activities can also include community-based research, but in this case a more formal agreement with the partner is required.
Examples of Activities
There are many forms of within-community learning activities. Since the primary principle involves the student observing and reflecting on something in the community, the possibilities are endless. A few common examples include:
Interviews: The students interview a professional and/or community member and use the results of that interview to do a presentation or other assignment.
Community Events: The students can attend any number of community events which focus on topics of relevance to the course. They can interact with professionals in their field and possibly listen to lectures, and can reflect on this through an assignment or presentation.
Tours: The class can attend a tour of an institution that does work associated with the course. Along with deepening their learning experience, this carries the additional benefit of giving the students a shared experience.
The key to all these activities is the element of observation. The students are not collecting data, but rather taking notes strictly for their own enrichment and growth.