Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Volume 22, Number 2, p. 189, (2018)


Copyright © 2018 by the University of Georgia


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.