The Service-Learning, Inclusion and Digital Empowerment Manifesto

The Service learning, inclusion, and digital empowerment Erasmus+ project, or SLIDE is a multi-national European project between Dutch, German, Austrian, Italian, Croatian, Slovakian, Romanian and Spanish experts on service learning. SLIDE is a response to the acute needs of education brought into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, the need to digitally empower university who rapidly must transform from teaching professionals into learning experience designers and experts in emerging technologies. Secondly, a need to close the gap between self-perceived and actual digital competences of university students by equipping them with digital fluency/ intelligence/ engagement skills, but also with pedagogical skills to sensitize them towards digital inclusion of underprivileged and underrepresented groups and to empower them to address sensitive contemporary societal issues while developing their digital competences. And thirdly, a need to combine the digital empowerment of teachers and students with the pedagogical approach of Service-Learning understanding that this promotes diversity an inclusion, while establishing connections between higher education institutions and communities at risk, either in direct proximity or rural/remote areas.

This manifest is intended as a platform for further debate, as a resource and inspiration for the groups of people that stand to benefit from service learning (SL), and as a challenge to the current teaching and learning approaches. The Manifesto groups different statements about digital empowerment and service-learning, which could be useful starting points for scholarly dialogue about resilience, access, teaching quality, and inclusion.

It was created through a process of consulting members of the various stakeholder groups mentioned in this manifesto from across Europe, through group discussions we explored the need for digital empowerment and service learning, its innovative properties, the impact we expect it to have and what best practices are for digitally enhanced service learning.