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!
This is my first semester teaching service learning, and my experience as an instructor has been extra special – I teach service learning at a college-level to Chinese students. I live in Xin Zheng, Henan and teach at Sias International University, which is affiliated with Kansas’ Fort Hays State University. Students at Sias International University have the option to enroll in a dual-degree program where they can receive a traditional Chinese post-secondary degree in addition to a Bachelor’s degree, in either Business or Leadership, from Fort Hays State University.
The challenges of teaching service learning have been difficult, not only because this is my first semester, but also because the education system in China is so different from America. Students in China go to school Monday through Friday, all day – this includes post-secondary students. And, the students are accustomed to sitting in class, listening and intently taking notes – the entire time. Team projects are a scary concept for Chinese students, being hands-on and getting “involved” is unheard of.
This semester I had thirty service learning project teams. All their projects focused on recognizing and resolving community and civic needs which would demonstrate their capacity to bring about social change. Now, I don’t mean to be boastful, but I have some of the most amazing students. I have been brought to tears many times both during class and when I have been involved with teams’ projects. Because of the students lack of experience with getting “involved,” I honestly feel blessed to get to experience these projects with them.
When the semester started, my students were timid and terrified at the idea of having to complete a service learning project. I had many students ask for basic lectures and exams rather than having to complete a project. When I put my students into their random project teams, there were many that looked like they were about to cry from fear. And the first session of team meetings were rough, the students didn’t know how to begin the process of doing a “project,” and communication among the team members was nonexistent. I honestly thought to myself that I had made a big mistake taking this teaching position, that what I was teaching was something they would never able to comprehend, and that it was a waste of time and effort.
However, I was wrong! Now they are completely different students, and people. I cannot explain in words how much their self-confidence has improved, I am in tears now thinking about it. Back in August, these students never would have approached a fellow classmate, teacher or local resident to inform and persuade them to get involved in their service learning projects. Now, on a daily basis, I see posters, flyers, brochures and even advertisements for presentations related to my students’ projects. They all developed a passion for their projects and were adamant about making sure people were aware and involved with what they were doing – and they did this because they understood it was a need that required attention. These students have turned into adults, they no longer just think of just themselves. I have had many students come up to me and tell me about another community or civic need that they were involved in, simply because they wanted to.
A few of the projects that created the “brightest impact” this semester include:
- Increasing the awareness of students’ poor health on campus.
- The students’ health here is very poor because their schooling always comes first. They are constantly studying, will miss meals and go days without leaving their dorm rooms because they are studying for an exam or writing one of many papers. And their stress level is outrageous, parents put a lot of pressure on their children to earn high marks in school, so smoking a cigarette and binge drinking are a common way to cope. Some of my teams addressed this need by creating posters, flyers and brochures about the importance of good health. They also held events on campus and at the local gym to encourage students to exercise, explaining how to maintain good health and why doing so is important. I know these projects were very successful because I have personally seen more students out walking or jogging. I have been living in Xin Zheng, Henan for the past two years and I have never seen so many students at the gym, now I have to wait for a treadmill when I used to have my pick of many.
- Increasing the awareness of safe sex/abstinence practices on campus.
- In China, students do not receive any form of sex education, or even talk about the topic with their parents, it is considered to be too embarrassing. The pregnancy and abortion rates are incredibly high in China, not only because of the large population, but also because of their lack of information and awareness. Peer pressure is incredibly strong here, the maturity level is lower than that of an American college student and girls are very submissive, so many girls feel pressured into sex. I was so proud of this team, because they took on a challenge that most students would be scared of. At first, I worried about how this group of girls would address the issue – especially because the female population has a lower level of respect here and this topic is embarrassing for them. However, these girls campaigned and held the best student presentation I had ever seen, there was only standing room in the auditorium. And to make my heart overflow with even more pride, this team talked to local doctors and got them to come to their presentations to discuss sexual transmitted diseases, pregnancy and abortion.
- Fundraising and advocating for local elderly, disabled and orphan housing.
- Xin Zheng, Henan a very poor rural community. Some of the housing communities lack heating and sanitary living conditions. Even though China has a large population, there are only a small number of individuals who are aware or willing to help. The Chinese population is very kind to children and the elderly, but only to those that they see, the individuals that need help and assistance that are not publically visible are often forgot about. One of my teams raised enough money through fundraising to buy gloves, scarves and socks for entire orphanage, something they desperately needed as the bitter winter approached.
- Improving the cultural misunderstanding between the locals and foreign faculty.
- Because of the affiliation with Fort Hays State University, there are many foreigners living in Xin Zheng, Henan. And, at times, there are misunderstanding because us foreigners forget where we are, and the locals forget that we are not from China. One of my teams organized several “mingling” events where foreigners and local Chinese citizens could meet and discuss, through translation and use of hand signals – like charades, the differences that cause frustration among the two. The students observed these events, going around talking to those who attended and having surveys. With all their survey results and notes from the “mingling” events, they created an amazing booklet about the cultural differences between Chinese and Westerners. The booklet included common cultural differences and helpful suggestions to deal with local residents or foreigners. To make it even better, the students were able to get a printing company to print free copies that were disbursed all across campus and within our community, in both Chinese and English so everyone was able to read the booklet.
To sum up my experience with service learning, I have to say that I feel honored to a teacher, lucky to have my wonderful students and blessed to get to see them evolve into China’s future leaders. Not only did my students identify key social issues, develop and sustain coalitions but they implemented effective strategies and tactics while engaging in action to bring about change – and it was all a new concept to them. They did it so well and made me the most appreciative and proudest teacher. I only have two weeks left teaching these wonderful students, and although I am sad that I won’t be teaching them anymore, I am so thrilled that they have established the following skills, and all within one semester:
- They understand leadership.
- They can self-reflect, think critically, and have a holistic perspective.
- They can demonstrate the ability to work in a team environment
- They are aware that honesty serves as the heart of integrity.
- They can display personal responsibility.
- They are now able to establish trusting relationships.
- They can recognize community and civic needs.
- They possess and an attitude of broader social concerns.
- They are able to see problems from several different views.
- They have the ability to develop a vision for the future intended to resolve issues.
- They understand and articulate attributes of community populations.
- They have the ability to ask probing questions.
- They understand the role of perseverance in the leadership process.
- They are able to participate in leadership under stressful and adverse situations.
- They can have the ability to effectively communicate their knowledge orally.
This truly shows just how powerful and beneficial service learning is!
Written by: Heather Kriley, MBA, International Instructor, Department of Leadership Studies, Fort Hays State University
Disclaimer, all thoughts and opinions are those of Heather Kriley.
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!