NOSC 2012: Kevin and Kevin- MUST SEE Presentation

When Kevin Foster and Kevin Kecskes took the podium this morning to kick off the final day of the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference, I was full of anticipation.

Kevin Kecskes from Portland State addressed the National Outreach Scholarship Conference today.

This was the keynote event especially for faculty.

Even though Kecskes started off a little slow with a lot of apologies about how difficult it is to give a keynote to a crowd at the early 8 a.m. hour,  he and his first namesake, Kevin Foster delivered BIG!

Multi-speaker keynotes or panels can sometimes be very dry and quite frankly, boring.   There’s one PowerPoint after another PowerPoint and if there’s not a real compelling moderator to tie together, the conference session falls FLAT.

From review of the models of community engagement to the continuum of change, Kecskes and Foster opened up a discussion that we hope to continue this afternoon.   They inspired me to think again about what I do as both a community engaged scholar and as a faculty member in journalism.

I left this morning’s session with an expanded vocabulary to apply to what I do with new words such as contextual intervention and structural transformation.

“This work is political,” said Kesckes, who serves as associate provost for engagement and director of community-university partnerships at Portland State University. “Change is political.”

While Kesckes made some great points, I believe I connected with Foster even more, in part because he was very transparent about his journey as a scholar from historically underrepresented population.

Kevin Foster from University of Texas at Austin presented at today’s National Outreach Scholarship Conference.

“I’ve had to figure out how to make it in the academy, ” Foster admitted as he shared his experience knowing that he had to be better than all of his colleagues (presumably because of his engagement scholarship approach)

Because community-engaged scholarship is so new to the academy, it does require a sales job.

One of the selling points that was raised at today’s kick-off is the fact that community-engaged scholarship is not easier, but harder to produce than more traditional scholarship or research.   It requires the extra effort be made to include the community in all phases of the scholarly process.


13th Outreach Conference Wraps Up Today After Week of Memorable Events

The 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC) wraps up Wednesday at the University of Alabama, but not after some memorable events.

As one of those who has worked on the team planning the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference, I can hardly believe that it is almost over.

But, I’m excited about what I have seen over the last two days as the University of Alabama was front-and-center for a national discussion of the REAL ROLE of any college or University:  How Well it Serves its community.

UA Women’s Basketball Coach Wendell Hudson spoke to attendees Tuesday night at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference. Hudson was the first African American scholar athlete to be admitted to the University.

Some 500 attendees have been here to Tuscaloosa to engage on how we should PARTNER, INSPIRE and CHANGE our communities and the energy with which we will leave this afternoon is like no other.

Even as I prepare for Day 3, I have to brag on my students– young and old who have been prominently displayed at this year’s conference


I was pleased to see Third graders Sean Smith and Joshua Patton talk about the 15-month partnership between the University and Tuscaloosa’s Oakdale Elementary School.

Each Tuesday, I work with 45 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in producing The Oakdale Eagle.

On Tuesday, Smith and Patton, who started with me as rising second graders, made their PowerPoint Presentations to a nice crowd at a national conference.

Their teacher, Latrina Spencer, who initiated the partnership, also answered questions about the role of journalism at the elementary school level.

The whole world was seeing what I get to see now each Tuesday when I worked with these students– how GREAT THEY ARE now as journalists!


I still remember when Andrea Mabry was in my introductory journalism class.

Today she is a graduate student here at the University, but not after serving as a photojournalist for countless events here on campus and around Tuscaloosa.

She still does photography projects on the side, but recently she has started a Farmers Market.

Tuesday she and two other students told the story of the Farmers Market.

And, I got a chance to photograph the photojournalist.

There is so much more to write about NOSC 2012.    But, I’ll have to do it later.

An action-packed Day 3 is about to kick off in one hour.

Twitter, Wiggio Expand Scope of 2012 Gulf South Summit Beyond Hattiesburg

Twitter and Wiggio each make a contribution to the 2012 Gulf South Summit. Glad we’re using these tools to take the conference beyond the Lake Terrace Convention Center.

HATTIESBURG, Miss–  A few days before the conference, I contacted one of the organizers to find out what our Twitter hashtag would be for this 2012 Gulf South Summit, my first such gathering.

The reply I received was “We’re using Wiggio and you should have gotten an invitation to join,”

I thought “Wiggio” What’s that?  Thankfully a YouTube video explained to me.

Even though I created my account before coming here to Hattiesburg, I was still a little fuzzy on how Wiggio could compete with Twitter in the social media arena,

It can’t.

Groups are not the same thing as social networks.  Each has a place at a conference like this.

Thankfully, someone had posted fliers around the Lake Terrace Convention Center notifying conference attendees to follow up on Twitter using the hashtag #GSS2012

The bigger point here is this gathering is using electronic means of sharing presentations, videos, handouts AND building community online, one that will last long after we leave Hattiesburg.

Patti Clayton facilitated a service learning seminar I attended at IUPUI last summer.

Today’s luncheon keynote with my friend Patti Clayton, involved a Tweet N’ Talk where people could respond to some of the prompts from Clayton either by talking to those at their tables on communicating in 140-character updates.

It was a real neat way to integrate social media into our deliberations.

While most at my table were not on Twitter (and I found myself educating them about this social media platform), it was encouraging how many service learning educators are there– communicating in the Twitterverse.

This afternoon, there were some presentations on social media and service learning.  I hate that I missed them.

But, thanks to Wiggio, I might be able to at least review the slides before the week is out.

Interview With Moody Radio South’s Martin Houston Airs Thursday

This Thursday and Friday, I will be interviewed by Pastor Martin Houston, a University of Alabama alumnus, on Moody Radio South about partnerships and alliances as part of a weeklong series “For Such A Time As This.”

This Thursday, I’ll make a return to morning radio after more than a  20-year absence.

I have fond memories of doing morning radio news and interviews for a now-defunct all business news station back in my hometown of Richmond, Va. in 1992.

Though the station changed formats and my first full-time job after college was eliminated,  God had something bigger and better in store.

So I was thrilled to receive the invitation from Martin J. Houston, co-host of Moody Radio South’s “New Day Cafe,” to be interviewed about the value of partnerships and Christian alliances as part of a weeklong series “For Such A Time As This.”

I had no idea what would happen late last month when I walked into a North Tuscaloosa radio studio for the interview.

Continue reading “Interview With Moody Radio South’s Martin Houston Airs Thursday”

Service Learning Research Takes Spotlight Again in Indianapolis

Service Learning Research and Service Learning Program Evaluation are two different things, a key point mentioned at the IUPUI Research Academy, which is taking place this week here in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS– Six months after hosting the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE), Indianapolis is the place for yet another gathering on research in service learning– the IUPUI Research Academy that I’m attending this week.

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is the home base for Bob Bringle, who literally wrote the book (several of them) on service learning research and who directs IUPUI’s Center for Service and Learning.  He and colleague, Julie Hatcher from the Center on Philanthropy have defined “service learning” in a way that so many scholars have cited for more than a decade.

Bob Bringle, director of IUPUI's Center for Service and Learning leads the IUPUI Research Academy.

For at least this week, “Bringle & Hatcher” are not just a citation in an academic research article.   They are mentors who are talking about ways to raise the quality and conceptualization of scholarship that has yet to be done on community-based partnerships and civic engagement.

The name “Patti Clayton” is so familiar to those of us who have read and cited service learning research in our own scholarship.

On Wednesday, Patti was speaking about how she as a qualitative researcher has done quantitative work as well.    Seeing her interact with Bob Bringle during our Research Academy has been great.

It has been amazing to sit at their feet for a few minutes and just hear them talk about the types of projects in which they’re involved.    And, we still have a full day with them today and a half-day tomorrow.

Last November’s IARSCLE Conference was a big part of the discussion on Wednesday as we talked about some of the research projects that were presented.   Most importantly, we as teacher-scholars in service learning were educated in a different way about how to “pitch” our own research to those assembling conference and convention programs.

You CAN do Homework Again

All this week we’ve been challenged to continue the learning on our own each night after our sessions with homework.  Even in developing my own research project, I had the opportunity dig through the stacks of the University Library here at IUPUI and locate references that relate to my project.

Wednesday’s homework where we read some excellent academic articles, some still in the writing and revision stage, really took me back to the my days as a Ph.D. student at The University of Georgia.

We had assigned readings and questions to tackle that made the readings relevant for our own research.

Program Evaluation vs. Research

The IUPUI Research Academy has only been going a half-day.  But, I’ve already been challenged to re-think the purpose of my own so-called “research.”

In their attempts to raise the quality, level and yes, profile of service learning research, the team here at IUPUI differentiates between projects that test theory and contribute to what’s known (Research) and those that are concerned primarily with the data and inferences from that data for a particular service learning or community engagement effort (program evaluation).

I think I may have been confusing these concepts even as I have tried to generate scholarship from my own service learning efforts.

We’ll be talking about this distinction a lot more today, the second day of the research academy and the fourth day of my trip to Indiana.

Service Learning Institute Sparks Teacher Transformation

The Service Learning Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has helped me make a good service learning course in Communication and Diversity even better for future students.

INDIANAPOLIS– The last time I spent five straight days in Indiana was in the Summer of 2003 where on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University I participated in a weeklong workshop for journalists who were becoming full-time journalism instructors.

By design, that event was to be transformative as it helped those of us used to covering politicians and feeding breaking news to an audience of thousands become teachers whose primary concern was the learning of the dozens who show up in our classes each academic term.

Eight summers later I’m back in Indiana and I’m attending what’s shaping up to be an equally transformative event.

Instead of just focusing our teaching “Connecting Campus with Communities” has two components that serve to change how we as facilitators of learning  prepare learning experiences (the Service Learning Institute) and the approach we are scholars take in our scholarship (the Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Research Academy)

In Good Company 

The collective wisdom about service learning in this room was like nothing I've ever experienced since I started teaching. I look forward to staying in touch with these service learning colleagues as I travel to service learning and civic engagement conferences in the next few months and years.

Co-sponsored by Indiana Campus Compact and the Center for Service and Learning here at IUPUI, the Service Learning Institute has placed me in the company of like-minded instructors who are committed to making the community a part of their teaching and learning experience.

Instead of just faculty, the attendees at the Service Learning Institute were administrators of service learning on campuses of various sizes and faculty who are teaching at both teaching-oriented universities and research universities.

The diversity of our experiences was notable.  But, even as we learned about the role of college and university tenure and promotion in service learning or strategies for building better relationships with community partners, there was time for specific development of teaching strategies in my own course.

Small Group, Big Impact

Breaking away from a group of more than 30 educators to a team of five was a vital part of taking what has been a good mass media course focused on diversity that has sent several dozen University of Alabama students into Alabama communities for learning and making it better.

Even though Donald Braid (left) is from Butler University here in Indianapolis, the Butler basketball team never came up in our conversation. Stephanie Dickey from Wright State, Ana Lopez Goshen College, Wojciech Tokarz from St. Francis Xavier University and Megan Thornton (front) all helped me improve my service learning course.

My faculty group included those both in the U.S. and Canada who are all teaching courses with some aspect of diversity of culture as part of the objective.  I came away from a better understanding of what it’s like to teach in the Humanities while also developing better approaches to facilitating writing instruction in my course, which is “Writing” intensive.

There are times when the teacher needs to be the learner so that his or her students can learn more and better stuff (as the saying goes).   That’s happening as a result of the small group of faculty who operated as a team to critique my teaching approach and feed me with ideas for making future courses better.

The result will be a better service learning course in 2012 and in years to come.