Service Learning

The ability to make a difference in our communities is something I take very seriously.  When my career first began, service was limited to serving the discipline and the university where I worked.  As I have grown as an academic, I realized that as an academic I have the duty to serve the community as well.  From my perspective, we can serve the community through our research and teaching,  Research can be connected to service ideals in many different ways.  For example, researchers might conduct research on topics that bring immediate value to the community.  A few years ago, for example, I worked with colleagues on a project to develop a youth violence plan for a local city.  Researchers might also translate their research through opinion pieces, public presentations, or media interviews.  Click on the image below to see one such example of an op-ed I wrote using my research experience on family violence.

Regarding teaching, ODU has a strong service learning program.  Working with this program, one of my current funded research project supports service learning projects in cybersecurity courses.  Each semester, cybersecurity students will participate in at least one class integrating service learning into the course.  In Summer 2018, I had the opportunity to work with the Virginia Beach Schools Office of Technical and Career Education to have cybersecurity students create materials that the schools could use to increase cybersecurity awareness among high school students.

Representatives from the Office of Technical and Career Education consulted with the students throughout the service learning project. These representatives included Sara Lockett (director of the Office) and Theresa Dougherty (coordinator for Business and Information Technology). Students developed a range of teaching aides including a spear phishing game, promotional posters, brochures, and presentations on topics related to cybercrime. Students in the class pitched their projects to the Virginia Beach officials who, along with three guests, served as judges to identify the top three projects. The project identified as the “top” project was a spear phishing presentation/game developed by computer science major Sangeet Mokha. Her project, along with the others created by the students, was given to Dougherty and Lockett.

Cybercrime Service Learning Contest. Judges are in the back grow and award winners are in the front page.

Recognizing that service learning is a high impact practice the improves the lives of students and the community, we made this program LeADERS instead of LeADER.  Ironically, the “S” demonstrates the importance of community in our efforts.