We’ve been listening to our users and the service learning community alike for our most exciting feature yet! Yesterday we went live with our goals feature allowing students to create an overall goal for their service learning project as well as individual goals throughout the duration of their project. Each goal also has a goal statement providing students the opportunity to clearly display their SMART goals or create their own goal statements for the project.
Goals wouldn’t be complete without objectives, of course! Students are able to create multiple objectives underneath a goal providing milestones throughout the service learning experience. Students can now set attainable goals with deadlines to help manage their service learning expectations.
As you can see from the image above, each individual goal has a thermometer allowing students and professors to visualize the progress made. There are also activity and impact meters associated with objectives; this also provides a visual reference for the amount of tasks or impact that is needed for an objective to be marked complete. Once an objective is completed the designated circle on the timeline will turn green.
Below is an expanded objective. When a user clicks on the objective from the timeline it will expand below where they are able to manage the objective. From here you can see your progress with the activity and impact meters and add, edit or delete tasks associated with the objective. You can also add impact to an objective via the drop-down menu when you click the gray arrow on the right.
We can’t wait for this year’s students to start planning service learning projects with goals and objectives. Not only will these new tools assist students, but professors can also assign objectives and goals for their students which makes implementing service learning that much easier!
Earth Day is coming up in just a couple weeks and we have found a great way for your school or campus to join in!
This Earth Day instead of just talking about the importance of recycling let’s actually do something about it in our community. Did you know that each year we throw away enough plastic to circle the globe 4 times and that if we would just recycle this plastic we would use 88% less energy when creating new plastic items and help increase jobs in our own neighborhoods? Talk about making an impact!
The project we have for you this Earth Day is creating fun, exciting and enticing recycling and trash bins as well as posters to promote environmentally friendly practices where you learn. Whether you are teaching K-12 students or are involved on campus at the local university these awesome recycling and trash bins are fun to make and use.
Photo courtesy of: The TRASHed Art of Recycling
Here’s how you can start planning this project at your school:
2) Share your idea with the Science/Art Department, Yearbook Staff or Communications Department, if you are at a university. See if they are willing to participate in your Earth Day project making a united school effort. The science department can teach students about the importance of recycling and how damaging litter is, the art department can lead the charge on designs for the trash bins, while the yearbook or communications staff can put together a great lesson plan on how to create eye-catching flyers and ads about this topic.
3) Gather the bins. You can either source donations for the trash bins or ask the school if you can use ones already on campus. If you are going to be decorating bins already in use be sure to clean them thoroughly before you begin to paint them.
4) Finalize your plans with all departments involved and start preparing!
We’ve done it again! Bright Impact released our new Impact Journal feature!
The impact journal allows students to view their service learning impact in a journal format. Currently group impact is added to each group member’s journal along with individual types of impact such as reflections that have been marked as individual.
Students and instructors will also be able to filter their Impact Journals in order to see a specific type of impact, one or a select few group members, impact made during a certain time frame, and more. You can also search through your journal for specific keywords related to your project to find past impact.
Do you want to hide something from your impact journal? Maybe delete an incorrect entry? You can hover over the small tab in the top right corner of each journal entry and choose between Hide and Delete. If you choose Hide the impact will be hidden from your impact journal but not deleted.
Here’s how you can make your impact journal stand out:
1) Upload photos with your impact. When you upload photos with impact they will appear in your impact journal as well creating a fun and detailed look.
2) Use titles and descriptions every time you log impact. The impact journal will become the story of your service learning experience when you fill in all the fields associated with your impact.
3) Upload any files you have that relates to your impact. If you created a fundraiser flyer, scanned a newspaper clipping, or have a link to an article online add it into your impact log to keep you organized.
The impact journal creates a much more interactive and personal experience with your service-learning project. You can view your own personal impact journal by clicking on ‘My Impact’ in the top navigation menu.
We are working on enhancing the impact journal as we speak. Eventually you will be able to generate custom reports straight from your impact journal making turning in reflections a breeze and even serving as a portfolio to show community involvement during interviews.
With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday I thought I would share a few ways to turn your average Super Bowl Party into a service-learning fundraiser fit for everyone.
Food is undoubtedly the second most important part of a Super Bowl party next to a big screen TV. So why not make fundraisers out of food?
Men love a good bowl of chili and everyone loves a good chili cook-off. Set up a friendly chili cook-off between your friends with a nominal entry fee and the title of “Chili Champion 2013” for the winner.
Photo Courtesy of 1 Cup Awesome
Ladies love to bake and with Pinterest providing us with countless unbelievable recipes, the Super Bowl seems like the best time of year for a bake-off. Girls, grab your mixing bowls and spatulas and prepare to take the title of Pastry Princess.
If you and your friends are always playing with your food, a food sculpture contest is right up your alley. For inspiration do an image search for “Super Bowl food” and you will find lots of creations like this one:
Got a crowd of big eaters coming your way? Have an eating competition! Chicken wings, pizza slices, bowls of salsa, or anything you can imagine can provide some entertainment during half time.
Okay, I know we can’t eat our way through the Super Bowl so here are some less filling ideas:
Have a raffle. You can raffle off anything from t-shirts to gift cards. Anyone who wants to participate can make a donation of their choice or you can set a minimum donation limit.
Ask your guests what they think the final score will be, who ever guesses correctly or within the closest range can receive a prize or just bragging rights. However, they must donate to participate.
Host a craziest fan contest. Party-goers should dress up to show their team pride and in order to be in the contest provide a small donation.
These are all lots of fun, but if you are already over your head in party planning duties you can always send out a message to all your invitees letting them know that you will be collecting donations at the party to benefit your community partner.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of our nation’s most inspiring civil rights leaders. At age 19 he began his work in ministry and at 24 years old he moved to Montgomery, Alabama where he held a major role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King Jr. was known to preach about love, justice, and peace. His words and ideals motivated individuals around the world to take action in creating a better society.
January 21, 2013 is Martin Luther King, JR. National Day of Service, but will you be taking part in the activities happening around your campus?
Yes, campus is closed and you don’t need to wake up early and rush to class this day, but that doesn’t mean exciting events aren’t planned for students or community members. If you aren’t interested in just being a participant you can also create your own service activity, invite friends, and create an impact.
In order to get you started on service ideas we’ve put together 10 ways to serve on MLK Day:
Teens for Jeans. Not a teen – not a big deal. This is a nationwide campaign hosted by Aeropostale and DoSomething.org benefiting underprivileged teenagers. The most requested item by these teens is a pair of blue jeans. Now, we know you have an old pair of jeans sitting in the back your closet that you haven’t gotten rid of because you are determined to fit back into them one day. Take your jeans and the jeans you’ve collected from your friends, family, and neighbors, sign up on the website, and then take your jeans to the nearest Aeropostale. This project has another benefit – for every pair of jeans donated you will receive 25% off a new pair of jeans from their store.
Host half day ‘mini camps’ like the students at Clark College. These students are hosting small camps at their local YMCA in music, art, and sports. Through this type of project you will help motive young kids and show them they can succeed.
Host a park clean-up. Picking up trash may not seem very glamorous, but the effect that it has on the local environment is huge! The park will look beautiful and therefore be more enjoyable for you and your community, but you will also ensure that the animals who call it home aren’t eating rotten leftovers, paper products, or even plastics.
Serve others. Literally. You can sign up to volunteer at a local food pantry, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter with ease by going online and finding the location closest to you. One major benefit to this type of project is that the more volunteers a shelter or pantry receives the more time they can put towards obtaining donations and grants for continued service. While you are there, stop and talk to the people who come in to eat. They will appreciate your interest in them more than you can imagine.
Host a food drive. If cooking and serving food isn’t really your thing you can still help local food pantries and shelters. Collect non-perishable food items from people you know or host a drive in your area. Most supermarkets even have a list of approved people who are permitted to take the left-over baked goods and produce from that day which would otherwise be thrown away. In most cases all it takes to become approved is a trip to the customer service desk to ask to be added to the list – no fancy paperwork needed.
Get crafty. Its winter and blankets are one of the most needed items in shelters across the nation. With a group of friends and $10 each you can head to the local craft store and make a blanket. Take these blankets down to the nearest shelter. Here’s a tutorial with photos from Mamas Like Me so you can make blankets at home.
Play with kids. Often local day-care centers and nurseries need a few extra hands. You can usually volunteer at one of these centers to clean toys, organize rooms, and even make small improvements. One thing to remember is that since this involves children you may need to provide a background check or other personal information.
If you want to find projects already planned in your area or want more information about MLK Day of Service 2013 please visit http://mlkday.gov/
Bright Impact has made managing service learning projects simpler for students by providing multiple project management tools.
Some of these tools include group discussion forums, file sharing, and calendar style planning tools. Bright Impact is now making group work easier for students by launching our new live chat feature!
Students will be able to have private chats, one-on-one, with another group member. So now when you are up late at night and have a question about a project – just check who is online!
Students will now be able to hold group meetings despite distance between group members through live chat, as well. Our new live chat also enables group members to create chat rooms and shows you a list of users online currently. To create and access chat rooms, click on the icon that resembles a group of people. Chat rooms also offer optional password protection.
As we all slowly but surely head back into the classroom or workplace this week we should also be planning out what our next moves for this year will be.
If you are teaching or participating in a service-learning course this next list of potential service-learning projects will help you narrow down a project that fits into your curriculum.
Here are our top picks for service projects in 2013:
- Intergenerational Literacy Programs: This type of initiative links older students with elementary or middle school aged students in the community. This type of service-learning project not only encourages the growth of literary skills in younger students but it also serves as a way for high school to college aged students to learn the skills needed to become an influencer in the real world by practicing encouragement, mentoring, and accountability skills.
- Spaghetti Dinner Nights: Although the concept of a spaghetti dinner night is not new students can repurpose this idea. These events can be held weekly or monthly at low cost and can benefit community centers, schools, families, or be made cause specific (i.e. American Red Cross, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Homeless Coalition). The challenge for students in this project is not only deciding how general or specific they make the cause but also how they will host, promote, price, and manage these events.
- Website Creation: Often times nonprofits are not always looking to raise funds, but how they will save funds instead. One large expense that students can help alleviate is web design and development. Nonprofits or local businesses are in need of regular maintenance and even complete creation. This service-learning experience will allow students to have hands-on work experience and also contribute to the growth of the local economy.
- Community Sporting Events: Sports management and marketing has boomed in colleges across the nation. It is time that students understand how they can motivate the community through sports. Holding community sporting events benefiting one or several community partners will give first hand experience in how to promote athletics, encourage physical activity, and event operations.
We want to know what service-learning projects you are participating in this year! Let us know your project themes and ideas below in the comments.
Here at Bright Impact we’re kicking off 2013 with a bang! Get ready students and faculty you’re going to be able to measure and view your school’s impact like never before!
We wanted to make tracking impact on Bright Impact exciting and interactive for our users while also allowing them to see their growth and progress throughout the semester or year.
With our new impact dashboard you can see the growth of your total economic donations on stacked graphs. You can also filter the graph by time period and type of impact.
Now you can drill down your Non-Cash Donations and Hours by type with our new pie charts. Non-Cash Donation categories include clothing, food, school supplies, household, electronics, toys, and other. Hours can now be categorized to help you see where your students are spending the most time during their service learning project; categories include project planning, on-site volunteering, fundraising, and other.
Watch the number of people and animals impacted grow week by week with improved line graphs.
You can also see the amount of bright moments, reflections, testimonials, and press mentions your group has made more vividly with a colorful pie chart.
Our improved impact dashboard not only provides more detailed reporting for your school and group but also stands as a visual motivator, helping you reach goals and improve upon your current service-learning strategies.
Well, what are you waiting for? Start impacting your community today and see the results!
If you haven’t noticed yet we released a new feature on Bright Impact last week! In order to help students better organize their calendar of events and tasks we implemented a new calendar view. This view looks and feels like a real calendar, listing events by date and time.
The calendar also allows students to view any selected event in a pop-up window, ensuring that they can manage the calendar and retrieve information all in one place.
Students can also view previous months helping compare their activity to the current month or plan ahead by viewing upcoming schedules for months to come.
We want to thank all of our students again for their great feedback! This feedback allowed us to create a better experience for all of our users. If you have any suggestions or ideas on we can better improve Bright Impact, let us know!
While there are no clear, set standards for what students should obtain after participating in a service learning course there are basic guidelines that most universities follow. After looking at various desired outcomes from different universities I have deducted that the following are the top 5 service learning objectives that professors seeking to incorporate service elements into their coursework should strive for:
1) Better Self and Social Awareness
2) Social Responsibility
3) Community and Social Justice
4) Multicultural Civic Engagement
5) Develop 21st Century Skills
Our first four learning objects are a bit obvious when talking about completing any service project; however that does not make them less important or any less valuable a point to stress while leading students in service learning coursework. Service learning requires students to look within themselves for qualities that will help them be successful in all areas regarding service learning. This includes finding compassion, selflessness, and the ability to work with their classmates not just amongst them.
Service learning in particular will also allow students to feel more invested into their community and surrounding areas. Students will connect with people or organizations and find that they share common beliefs and values creating a bond that will evoke a greater sense of desire to care for their area and support individuals that may be less fortunate. Service learning gives students a unique opportunity to interact with community residents that they would normally not cross paths with. This chance to see other living conditions and hardships or even just simple learning challenges will encourage students to fulfill our second and third learning objectives from above.
Either through predetermined groups or a class working as a whole, students will learn to depend on various other students for skills that they do not possess or can be supplied more efficiently through another. Service learning is a great way for students to interact with many cultures, personalities, and backgrounds. Creating diversity training for the workplace without any real effort on your, the professors, part. Students are also given a chance to see first hand different social injustices and cultural barriers that exist in local communities. Students will then be able to relate these first hand experiences into their careers, whether they be education majors or business majors, students will be able to take these experiences and create a more tailored experience for their clients based on what they learned via service learning.
Developing 21st century skills is necessary for all students, yet not all students are afforded a chance to learn the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce. This is where service learning comes into play. No matter the grade level of a student they will pick up various skill sets from service learning. Computer science skills, environmental protection and preservation methods, even task management methods. Service learning exposes students to various situations and organizations that contain highly technical jobs where experience in building skills can take place. Even if students are too young to build up their skill levels they will still be exposed to what is current in the workforce and be able to set professional goals for themselves, giving them the opportunity to understand milestones and the steps necessary to accomplish a future goal.
For myself I know that service learning made me more aware of the issues happening right in front of me that I never noticed or took the time to investigate further. Through the learning objectives above that I was able to accomplish via my service learning courses I have been able to understand that diversity in teamwork is crucial, social responsibility is something I look for in companies that I purchase goods from or work with, and I even make a conscious effort to help out my local community more often.