Fostering eABCD: Asset-Based Community Development in Digital Service-Learning

Rachael W. Shah, Jennifer M Selting Troester, Robert Brooke, Lauren Gatti, Sarah L. Thomas, Jessica Masterson


The continuing expansion of digital service-learning is bringing emergent dynamics to the field of community engagement, including the challenge of fostering asset-based views of community partners in online spaces. “Online disinhibition” (Suler, 2004) can prompt harsh critique or insensitive language that would not have occurred during face-to-face relationships. Traditionally, the field of community engagement has drawn on asset-based community development (Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993), which calls for relationship-driven, asset-based, and internally focused partnerships, to encourage ethical and positive interactions with community members. However, this theory was not originally intended for digital, text-based interactions. This article explores how aspects of asset-based community development might be enacted in online partnerships, in electronic asset-based community development (eABCD). A case study of a digital writing partnership between college students and rural youth is used to illustrate how students can be supported in asset-based, relationship-driven, and internally focused interactions in online service-learning collaborations.


eService-learning; digital partnerships; asset-based community development; writing

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