Module 4: Moving Beyond the Classroom

Learning in the Community:

Developing Learning Experiences


After determining your outcomes, the next step is brainstorming how to involve the community in your classroom. Here are some of the most common ways of doing so:

Guest Speakers

Inviting a guest into your class is one of the simplest ways of bringing in the outside world. Guest speakers can describe how theories learned in class are used in other settings, offer firsthand advice on how to troubleshoot difficult problems, or describe for students the kinds of jobs they might expect to get after graduating.

Field Trips

Site visits or field trips can show students how concepts, equipment, and processes are used in context. Field trips can sometimes offer students a venue for trying out these concepts themselves. A visit to a power plant could illustrate how security systems are installed and maintained, and a field trip to a park site could provide an opportunity for students to practice GPS mapping techniques.

Field trips are especially appealing to visual and physically active learners. However, physical activity does not necessarily equal mental engagement. On field trips students can write, sketch, use maps, and take notes while listening to lectures and working out problems in the field. In most cases, cleverly designed problems and curriculum materials, such as field guides and worksheets, usually provide something for all types of learners.

Adapted from Douglass, "The Out-of-Classroom Experience,"


Student internships are work experiences, supervised by the instructor and an industry contact, in which the student spends an extended period of time in the workplace. Many programs have well-established internship opportunities for students, and you, as an individual instructor, may not be expected to create internships specific to your course. You should determine whether any students have internship experience and relate that to the course. Usually, as part of the internship experience, students are assigned a project to complete over time; for example, an IT student might conduct a needs assessment to determine if a library needs a new computer system.