Teaching and learning social justice through online service-learning courses


  • Kathy L. Guthrie Florida State University
  • Holly McCracken Capella University




Social Justice, Experiential Education, Service-Learning, Leadership


Creating a virtual classroom in which diverse students feel welcome to discuss and experience topics related to social justice, action, and change is a study in the value of connectedness and collaboration. Through a combination of technologies, pedagogies, and on-site experiences, virtual cultures develop that encourage the formation of demanding yet stimulating learning environments in which communications and interactions are intellectually transformative. This article explores student perceptions of their participation in an online service-learning course while working in local service organizations. Qualitative methodology was used to identify the philosophical intersection at which multiple pedagogies meet: social justice, service-learning, civic engagement, and leadership as instructed in a web-based environment. This study illustrates the capacity for intentionally constructed online educational experiences focused on social justice, civic engagement, and leadership to affect learning and to provide educators with pedagogical best practices to facilitate requisite change in teaching practice.

Author Biographies

Kathy L. Guthrie, Florida State University

Kathy L. Guthrie is an assistant professor in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University

Holly McCracken, Capella University

At the time of writing Holly McCracken was the Director of Online Programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois Springfield. Holly is currently a Professor at Capella University in the School of Undergraduate Studies, where she is affiliated with the First Course and Business Programs. She has taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of experiential learning, liberal studies, adult and post secondary education, online teaching and learning, and training and performance improvement. Her current research interests include adult and transformative learning, adult literacy, academic outreach and workforce education, and instructional technologies. Holly may be reached at holly.mccracken@capella.edu.



How to Cite

Guthrie, K. L., & McCracken, H. (2010). Teaching and learning social justice through online service-learning courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(3), 78–94. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v11i3.894



Research Articles