REAL initiative

REAL academic regulation information sessions

Information sessions regarding the development of a REAL academic regulation will be held via Zoom at the following times:

Tools and resources for COVID-19

We know there are many challenges for our students, faculty, staff and partners as we deal with the changes in structure brought about by the coronavirus. We at the REAL team want you to know that we remain here to support you.

We have put together some guidance on hiring and recruiting students during the COVID-19 response. Similar such resources can also be found at Center for Community Engagement and Impact's Keep on Partnering page.

An expansive list of additional resources can also be found by expanding the header below:

The following tools and resources can help you navigate experiential learning activities during COVID-19:


  • Mapping Access from Vanderbilt University: Tools for ensuring online course materials are as accessible as possible.
  • Student Opportunity Center: Provides a centralized web-based service that can connect students to virtual experiential learning opportunities.It also provides faculty and staff with an enterprise-wide platform to share and track student engagement in a low-burden way.


Co-curricular activities (virtual)

Community partnerships

Curated discipline-specific examples

Discussion of a shared text

  • Perusall: A social annotation tool that allows students and instructors to collaboratively markup .pdf documents. The service is free if you upload your own .pdfs, but there is also a library of texts available. Can be used as a standalone or can be Integrated with Canvas and Blackboard LMS systems. Includes a grading tool and ways to track contributions of individual students.


  • Keep on Teaching: Remote teaching resources for faculty
  • Moving Online Now: Chronicle of Higher Education’s currently free collection of curated advice
  • Higher-Ed and the Coronavirus Facebook Group: Hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Ed
  • Humanizing Online Teaching: By Drs. Mary Raygoza, Raina León, and Aaminah Norris, Saint Mary’s College of California. Good discussion of asynchronous versus synchronous teaching
  • Instructional Design Emergency Response Team: The Instructional Design Emergency Response (ID-ER) Network connects institutions and educators to e-learning professionals willing to help convert face-to-face courses or course components to online offerings during times of crisis, such as natural disasters and epidemics. Select “I can help” or “I need help”

High impact practices



Support for Student Learners Moving Online

Teaching online (How NOT to overwhelm students in a time of disruption)

Moving online quickly

Synchronous Instruction

What is REAL?

Students work outside at the river

REAL's mission is to answer how VCU can guarantee every student an academic experience that involves hands-on learning activities directly relevant to realizing their personal and professional goals.

To our students, it is the university's promise to engage you in meaningful, hands-on work that builds both your professional and personal identity.

For our faculty and university professionals, it is a promise to support you as you create unique ways to provide these types of meaningful experiences for our students.

What REAL means in practice

REAL is not a hard reset, nor will it have a negative impact on the faculty, programs and projects already engaged in experiential learning. Instead, it’s an intentional organizing of the types of career-building and civic-minded activities that VCU already does well, providing an anchor for all the university's experiential education activities, including research, study abroad, service learning, practica and internships.

In practice, REAL means:

  • New or improved curricular elements to ensure adherence to best practices
  • New or improved tracking of experiential learning across the institution
  • Bringing an equity lens to experiential learning through information sharing and student exposure to tailored experiential learning opportunities

REAL does not:

  • Increase student’s time to degree
  • Increase student’s debt load

REAL types

A wide variety of academic activities qualify as a REAL experience, many of which already occur throughout the VCU curriculum:

Capstone experiences
Integrative learning experiences
Career exploration and development activities
Interprofessional collaboration
Civic learning and engagement
Leadership education
Living-learning communities
Entrepreneurship and innovation activities
Project/performance-based learning
Field experiences
Practicums/clinical placements
Independent studies
Service learning

Recent news

A collection of recent articles about REAL:

REAL next steps

REAL goals for the 2019-20 academic year include:

  • Expand engagement: Convene an expanded REAL Council to engage and involve stakeholders in REAL, including alumni and business/industry leaders
  • Map engaged learning pathways: Use the results of the Opportunity Audit to identify curricular pathways to advanced experiential learning activities and to credentialing in high-demand work force areas
  • Implement new IT solutions: Use the Student Opportunity Center platform's database to both connect students with opportunities and track their engagement on a central level
  • Identify a co-curriculum transcript solution: Explore the utility of digital badging for capturing, verifying and credentialing student non-credit activities