Community Engagement Short Courses

Community Engagement offers a number of short courses through its various programmes. More information about each short course can be found under the relevant programme page on this website.

Courses are accredited by Rhodes University through the Insitutional Planning Unit. 


Research, Teaching and Learning courses

Knowledge for Change (K4C) Engaged Research Engaged Research short course

Community-Based Service Learning short course

Digital Storytelling for Engaged Scholarship short course 

Social Innovation short courses

Digital Storytelling for Social Innovation

Digital Storytelling Train the Trainer

Computer Skills Training

Computer Skills Trainers the trainer

Engaged Citizenry short courses

Community Engagement Orientation (first-year course)

BuddingQ: Literacy and Social Justice

BuddingQ: Literacy Leadership and Advocacy

The Literacy Collective: Community Engagement Reading Club Orientation

High School Tutoring


Knowledge for Change Engaged Research

The purpose of this short course is to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of Community-Based Participatory Research and its application in academic and community settings. This course is designed to meet the needs of academics, postgraduate students, and community development practitioners who are interested in conducting community-based research that is relevant, meaningful, and responsive to the community's needs.

In this short course, researchers are given the theoretical and practical tools to design an engaged research and community-based participatory research project, including the various methods and principles of engagement with partners for a successful engaged research project.


  • Understand and explain Engaged Research
  • Explain the rationale of using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
  • Explain the theoretical basis and key principles of CBPR
  • Understand the CBPR process and research methods within a participatory approach paradigm
  • Explore existing engaged research methods and the instruments used to measure the data when using a CBPR approach.
  • Identify and discuss the benefits and challenges involved in CBPR and ways to overcome these challenges.
  • Explain ethics in the context of engaged research
  • Explore engaged research opportunities


Community-Based Service Learning: what, why, how?

Incorporating a community-based service component in a given course can be daunting. Creating a space where both learning and service take place in mutually beneficial and transformative ways poses a unique set of challenges for teaching and learning.

In this short course, lecturers are given the theoretical and practical tools to design, reimagine and refine a community-based service-learning course. By unpacking the what, the why, and the how of community based service-learning, the course aims to equip lecturers with the theoretical and practical tool to design and run successful community based service-learning courses in their discipline.


  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the scope of community based service-learning
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the theoretical underpinnings of community based service-learning
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the process of designing a community based service-learning curriculum for their discipline
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the process of drafting a memorandum of understanding for a partnership with a community based organisation for a service component in an academic course
  • Demonstrate engagement with techniques for student preparation and support in community based service-learning
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the process of designing an assessment strategy that aligns with a community based service-learning course curriculum
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the process of drafting an evaluation strategy that aligns with a community based service-learning course curriculum
  • Demonstrate reflexive engagement with ethical considerations related to community based-service-learning


Digital Storytelling for Engaged Scholarship

The Digital Storytelling for Engaged Scholarship short course is designed for researchers, lecturers and research participants to use digital storytelling for teaching and learning, engaged research and research communication. Digital storytelling was used to stimulate empathy and healing and agency, leading to its widespread use in community development and education spaces.

The purpose of this course is to equip participants to use the digital storytelling method in all three of the university functions – research, teaching and learning and community engagement. The course facilitates participants to go through the digital storytelling workshop process themselves, in order for them to experience the course from the perspective of their potential students or research participants. The course then moves beyond the requirements of the digital storytelling workshop, to include a focus on adapting the method for use in engaged research and in teaching and learning.


  • Demonstrate an ability to script and plan a digital story
  • Demonstrate the ability to make a video using video editing software
  • Transfer skills to use the method in different disciplines
  • Demonstrate a capacity to give/receive feedback in a group
  • Develop a research digital story that demonstrates an understanding of the nuance of digital storytelling for research communication vs personal expression
  • Design a plan to integrate digital storytelling into an academic curriculum
  • Construct a research design plan that incorporates digital storytelling


Digital Storytelling for Social Innovation

The Digital Storytelling for Social Innovation course is designed to foster social innovativeness by facilitating access to personal and professional skills development and opportunities for developing community cohesion, for community members, local innovators in community development, social innovators, and education practitioners.

Digital storytelling as a method emerged in response to the saturation of basic technologies in the everyday lives of many citizens. As a digital social innovation, digital storytelling can stimulate social innovation and community cohesion by using digital tools and collaboration. The digital storytelling method is rooted in dynamics of empathy, critical reflection, listening and witnessing. The method is designed to inspire empathy and cohesion among its participants. The method itself is a digital social innovation, aiming to use collaboration and technology to have positive social impact.


  • Demonstrate an ability to script and plan a digital story
  • Demonstrate the ability to make a video using video editing software
  • Transfer skills to use the method in different disciplines
  • Demonstrate a capacity to give/receive feedback in a group
  • Demonstrate principles of community engagement when collaborating in a group
  • Engage meaningfully in story circles
  • Develop a digital story that demonstrates an understanding of the nuance of a digital story versus a video


Digital Storytelling Train the Trainer

In South Africa, where social issues such as inequality, poverty, and discrimination are prevalent, digital storytelling can be a powerful tool for amplifying marginalized voices and promoting social justice.  By using multimedia technologies to combine personal stories with visual and audio elements, digital storytelling allows individuals to share their experiences and perspectives in a compelling and engaging way. However, digital storytelling requires a certain level of technical and storytelling skills, which can be a barrier to entry for many individuals and organizations.

By offering a train-the-trainer digital storytelling short course, we can capacitate community members and community-based organisations with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively use digital storytelling with their communities.


  • Demonstrate an ability to script and plan a digital story
  • Demonstrate the ability to make a video using video editing software
  • Transfer skills to use the method in different sectors
  • Demonstrate a capacity to give/receive feedback in a group
  • Demonstrate principles of community engagement when collaborating in a group
  • Develop a digital story that demonstrate an understanding of the nuance of digital storytelling in community settings
  • Develop a digital storytelling training programme
  • Train (facilitate) the process for other groups to make digital stories


Computer Skills Training

Computers and basic information and communication technologies have become saturated in our everyday lives, making digital literacy an essential skill for everyone. However, not everyone is familiar with devices and not everyone knows how to use basic information and communication devices. This gap in computer literacy can have a significant impact on the capacity of individuals to access services and improve employment, education, and personal development opportunities.

Computer Skills Training aims to bridge this digital divide by providing an opportunity for community members to acquire essential digital skills. This short course capacitates participants to use input devices and other peripherals, Windows 10, the internet, and Microsoft Word effectively for personal and professional purposes. This includes internet browsing, email communication, file management, and the use of digital tools for online learning, and job searching.


  • Identify the basic hardware of computers
  • Use input devices to perform tasks
  • Type efficiently on QWERTY keyboards
  • Use browsers and search engines to find information in different formats
  • Send and manage emails
  • Create documents
  • Format documents
  • Understand the MS Office Suite
  • Apply basic computer skills to learn new computer literacies


Computer Skills Trainers the trainer

Training others to use computers requires competencies. To address this issue, there is a need for a training programme to train participants to use computers to perform basic functions. The course would aim to equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to teach others how to use computers in a way that is accessible, easy to understand, and tailored to the needs of each learner.

This course is designed for volunteers and facilitators of community development programmes to train community members in basic computer literacy.


  • Understand the Community Engagement principles and their application
  • Understand basic principles of facilitating adult-learning
  • Be able to create relevant and appropriate lesson plans
  • Be able to design, administer and evaluate trainees’ assignments


Community Engagement Orientation (first-year course)

The purpose of this short course is to orientate students to the concept and context of community engagement; to understand their agency as interdependent human beings and active, caring citizens and how Rhodes University Community Engagement contributes to the development of the Makhanda community. Students are introduced to the values and principles that guide the practice of community

The Community Engagement Orientation (CEO) course is a compulsory introductory course for first years on engaged citizenship & social responsibility at Rhodes University. RUCE Staff and Student leaders will facilitate 5 punchy and relevant sessions focussed on issues of social inequality & privilege, the role of students in change-making and community engagement in their education as well as delve into the specifics of the approach Rhodes University takes on community engagement. 


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the developmental purpose of higher education
  • Express a balanced understanding of inequality and privilege and demonstrate their civil responsibility
  • Show knowledge of Rhodes’ strategic approach, principles and values to community engagement. 


BuddingQ: Literacy and Social Justice

As a response to the literacy crisis in Makhanda the course convenor developed BuddingQ - a literacy development programme that is offered to Rhodes University students as a volunteer opportunity. The programme focusses on Grade R motor development with the aim of preparing children for formal literacy instruction later in their schooling.

Broadly the course seeks to establish literacy development as a right of all children and through looking at our national and city-wide crisis help participants understand that our children are being denied this right (i.e. it is a social justice matter). Using this premise as a springboard, the course concludes to look at leadership as a channel for social change, starting at grassroots levels (youth/students and teachers). 


  • Understand the South African literacy landscape from a rights-based perspective.
  • Understand and differentiate the stages of literacy acquisition of young children and their role helping a child develop. 
  • Understand and communicate the link between motor development and literacy acquisition within the context of their volunteer experience.
  • Understand leadership as a solution for change in the South African literacy landscape and derive a purpose-driven commitment thereof.


BuddingQ: Literacy leadership and advocacy

This course follows on from the BuddingQ: Literacy and social justice course to deepen returning volunteers understanding and commitment to their role as social change agents. 


  • Identify and critique literacy injustice in South Africa.
  • Convey a sound understanding of how people become literate that is embedded in available, credible science.
  • Demonstrate a holistic understanding of leadership and the qualities of a literacy leader. 
  • Demonstrate commitment to change-making and advocacy. 


Community Engagement Reading Club Orientation (CERCO)

There is a strong need to develop a reading culture amongst the youth of the country.  The overall benefits of reading are undisputed whether it be in terms of teaching and learning or in general life skills and orientation or general well-being. Increasingly, student volunteers at Rhodes University are becoming involved in reading club community engagement programmes without possessing the necessary skills and training for such participation.

This short course is designed and aimed at training student volunteers to be effective participants in a reading club by introducing them to some general scholarship about reading clubs in and to context-specific anecdotal knowledge about reading clubs in primary and secondary schools in the Makana District. The knowledge and skills gained are applicable to any context/location. 


  • A working knowledge of general theories and scholarship about reading and reading clubs, in particular the appreciation of the value of reading for the general processes of cognition. 
  • The ability to translate this theoretical knowledge into practice by:
    • creating and maintaining a reading club ‘team’ (communication with stakeholders)
    • by selecting appropriate reading material (needs to appropriate to level of learners and to the task planned)
    • by managing group dynamics (the psycho-social dynamics of the group)
    • by sustaining interest and commitment 
    • by being organized and planning long-term, formative reading activities
    • by designing effective reading activities
    • by being able to evaluate and reflect on specific activities and the function of the club in general


Community Engagement Mentor Orientation

Mentoring has focused on personal planning, study skills and the use of English in learners’ homes. This necessitated the involvement of parents. ‘9/10s’ is a structured large-scale mentoring intervention that has been planned in these contexts. The 9/10 project is built on the conviction that 9/10ths of success is the result of encouragement and the building of self-esteem through contact with others.

The intention is that the top performing Grade 12 learners at Ntsika, Mary Waters, Khutliso Daniels and Nombulelo will be mentored by a Rhodes University student volunteer. These four schools are earmarked by Rhodes University as emergent schools. The detail of the mentoring methodology has been derived from the proven GADRA approach.


  • To explain the need and rationale for the 9/10ths Matric Mentoring  Programme to mentees
  • To explain the design and contents of the 9/10ths Matric Mentoring programme
  • To develop mentees’ analysis of their academic strengths and weaknesses
  • To assist mentees to assess their physical and social environments in terms of support for their studies
  • To assist mentees in designing a realistic personal plan
  • To keep track of mentees academic performance
  • To empathise with their mentees and understand how their respective situations affect their ability to study
  • To teach mentees study skills and strategies
  • To teach and assess mentees summarizing skills and their ability to use this as a study aid
  • To guide mentees in their applications to tertiary institutions and career projection


High School Tutoring

For more information about this short course, contact Dr Rene Oosthuizen (


Last Modified: Thu, 11 Jan 2024 12:01:15 SAST