The Coordinator of the UNISERVITATE Program, Mg. Maria Rosa Tapia, was invited by the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) of De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, to lecture in the webinar “Engaging Teachers in Online Service-Learning”. The event was held on June 19 with the committed coordination of COSCA officers Jayson Moredo, Jimi Caldea and Marietta Guanzon, and called on about 200 professors to reflect on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has forced institutions of higher education to redesign their curricula and the community service through digital technologies. Tapia’s presentation aimed to answer the following questions: How can we sustain service learning in the context of the pandemic? How can we serve and learn when access to communities is restricted? Will service-learning help us respond to the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized?
The presentation focused on the analysis of the abrupt changes that, as a result of the pandemic, forced the closure of the universities´ doors and the design of new strategies to sustain the work and commitment of students to the community and its needs.
This new context allowed to re-signified the opportunities provided by digital technologies for communication, collaboration and production, so that many students around the world could experience new forms of service by virtually accompanying the elderly and isolated people, helping to supply vulnerable groups, creating necessary objects or goods through 3D printing, volunteering for medical services in health emergencies, disseminating community business ventures through the Web, among other initiatives. Based on the principles and keys of service-learning, the conference focused on the lessons learned through the valuable experiences in progress, which allow us to project with hope the complex time ahead.
UNISERVITATE is a global and networked programme that is established through a process of permanent development and the integration of new actors and institutions from a series of regional hubs strategically distributed around the world.