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Research Articles

Vol. 25 No. 4

E-Engagement: Approaches to using Digital Communications in Student-Community Engagement

April 5, 2020


Scholars have claimed that online communication technologies would upend university–community engagement. We explored faculty approaches to and perspectives on e-engagement at one university with a largely residential student body where classes were held in-person. We suggest that e-engagement affords different rather than better or worse opportunities for engaged learning. Because e-engagement often involves international partners, it raises issues of student competencies to work with diverse partners online, including intercultural understanding and digital literacy. This study preceded the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, but the subsequent conversion of many courses to online format, and the possibility of similar crises spurring online-only learning in the future, add new urgency to understanding how communication technologies can facilitate community engagement. Universities can adapt and expand the myriad existing models of community engagement for online engagement. In short, e-engagement challenges us to navigate new forms of community and place, whether or not in response to crisis.