I believe that we learn best when we are able to apply what we have learned in the classroom, or through research in a real life setting. I feel that “Service Learning” as a movement in education is absolutely on the right track.
In Service Learning students apply the lessons they have learned in class to solve real world problems and make a difference in their community and the world around them. Service Learning can be applied across any major and enables students to innovate and be entrepreneurial in their attempts to impact the organization and community they live in. I believe in this so much that I’ve actually started a new venture called Bright Impact. Bright Impact helps educators and students manage and measure their service learning projects.
We launched in August 2012 and have had a great response from everyone so far. As an example this past semester 1,200 management students at UCF broke into teams, each team partnered with a charity. They then planned their work and worked their plan in an attempt to raise money, non cash donations, etc to help their charity. This actually gave them real world experience being entrepreneurial, managing projects, negotiating, innovating, reporting, etc.
Not only does this kind of project help the students digest their lessons better, but they can apply their lessons to solve real world problems while making a difference in the community around them. They also get out into the community and make contacts that could lead to new opportunities, mentors or job offers.
We plan on making a Bright Impact on the world with this endeavor. Wish us luck!