Geoinformatics (also known as geographic information science) is the science and technology that underpins the collection, representation, processing, analysis, visualisation and dissemination of geographic information. Such information is hugely valuable in solving environmental and social problems in society. In this paper we reflect on a community-based service learning approach in a third year geoinformatics module. Students mapped an informal settlement, captured information about dwellings and conducted a number of studies in support of environmental and social problem solving. The aim was to raise awareness of social issues, to understand students’ sense of social responsibility and their understanding of the role of geoinformatics in solving community problems. After completion of the module, we conducted in-depth interviews with ten students. The results confirm the value of community-based service learning in enhancing understanding of theoretical concepts and contributing to local communities. Further work is needed to better understand how South African geoinformatics students can be made aware of the role of geoinformatics in solving problems in society.