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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

One Foot Into a Brave New World: Constructing a Framework for Online Engaged Scholarship

Laurence Boggess (Penn State University & World Campus, USA)
Additional Authors
Richard Kiely (Cornell University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 11:45am
Institutional Strategies & Innovations
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 5
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 1

As universities consider "engaged scholarship" experiences for their students, are they also thinking about their fully online students?

Extended Abstract

Colleges and universities are embracing the concept of "engaged scholarship" as unique and developmentally important "real life" experiences to complement students' academic studies on campus. One national organization is dedicated to engaged scholarship: http://engagementscholarship.org/

Our land grant Research 1 university has recently announced the aspiration that all students have at least one meaningful engaged scholarship experienced during their degree studies. Other universities have already funded university-wide initiatives to provide engaged scholarship experience to students. The multiple benefits of students applying their academic learning to community problems and projects for the betterment of a locality, region, or society are obvious and compelling. That said, when universities consider engaged scholarship programs for their students, are they also thinking about their fully online students?

Engaged Scholarship for residential students is commonly described as a learning experience outside the classroom that requires application of knowledge to real life situations. This learning experience is designed to create opportunities for higher order thinking skills, impact a region or local in meaningful ways, and result in a student's critical reflection on experience and learning. Common types of engaged scholarship include service learning, community service, civic engagement, action research, public scholarship, community-based learning, community engagement, internships, field research and inquiry, and sustainability.

Concepts associated with the theory of action regarding engaged scholarship include cultural competence, cultural pluralism, diversity, critical reflection, experiential education, and scholarship of teaching. Clearly, the value of engaged scholarship for the student and the university centers on the acquisition of real life experiences, the application of theory and knowledge to new situations, the building of a learning community within classroom and among localities and regions, and reflection on learning and experience.

High quality engaged scholarship opportunities are built into courses, programs of study, and requirements for graduation. For the residential faculty and student, the design and implementation of such learning experiences can be tremendously meaningful, even life-altering, especially if university policies, structures, and finances support engaged scholarship as an important mission.

But what about online engaged scholarship? Should online students have the same learning opportunities with regard to engaged scholarship as residential students? How does it work online? How does it look online? What are the conceptual, practical, policy, structural, and financial issues that need to be addressed in order for engaged scholarship to be translated and implemented online?

Session goals:

This session will explore these questions by presenting an overview of engaged scholarship, examples of effective residential practices, and then involve participants in creation of an initial framework for online engaged scholarship by focusing on the following topics:

* Define and identify a typology of engaged scholarship concepts applicable to online learning;
* Examine institutional obstacles, opportunities, and processes that support the establishment of online engaged scholarship;
* Consider metrics for success in an online engaged scholarship program;
* Examine policy considerations at the program, department, college, and university levels;
* Identify online technologies that enhance engaged scholarship experiences; and
* Suggest best practices for online engaged scholarship.

Session outcomes:

At the end of the session, participants will:
* Understand the concept and possibilities of online engaged scholarship;
* Identify a set of ideas and theories of action to make the case for online engaged scholarship at their university;
* Create an informal network of faculty, administrators, and staff interested in continuing a national dialogue around the challenges and opportunities around engaged scholarship; and
* Identify early stage best practices for online engaged scholarship.

The Online Learning Consortium community is an ideal network to innovate the concept of "online engaged scholarship." Given the academic, administrative, and technical experience the community brings to bear on the concept of online engaged scholarship, the session has enormous potential to launch a national dialogue about how we can effectively provide online students with the same kind of high quality learning experiences afforded residential students. In some cases, given the wide range of localities and student position in work and life, online engaged scholarship could be even more meaningfully conceptualized and actualized online for a student demographic hungry for meaningful experiences and already embedded in a variety of communities and organizations.


Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Butin, D. W., & Seider, S. (Eds.). (2012). The engaged campus: Certificates, minors, and majors as the new community engagement. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hodges, R. A., & Dubb, S. (2012). The road half traveled: University engagement at a crossroads. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Olson, G. A., & Worsham, L. (Eds.). (2012). Education as civic engagement: Toward a more democratic society. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Peters, S. J., Alter, T. R., & Schwartzbach, N. (2010). Democracy and higher education: Traditions and stories of civic engagement. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Sandmann, L. R., Thornton, C. H., Jaeger, A. J., & Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Eds.). (2009). Institutionalizing community engagement in higher education: The first wave of Carnegie classified institutions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.