Responding to student and Industry Partner demand for fast, flexible and relevant learning for internships while in the field.

Dr Clare Dyson

Dr Clare Dyson
Queensland University of Technology
c.dyson@qut.edu.au

This project is a series of blended-learning online modules designed to support students and their industry partners progressively throughout the major stages of a WIL internship placement: preparation, industry engagement, and reflection, and to allow students to access material relevant to their particular timeframe and relevant to their particular placement.

The modules are designed to deliver the learning in a progressive pathway that mirrors the stages of the internship, to utilise technology that can be accessed anywhere and anytime (on phones, tablets and computers) and to have assessment that can be completed while in the workplace to integrate academic learning and real-world learning.

They are delivered in conjunction with disciplinary Academic Supervision and rolling face to face lectures.

 

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Full details of 'Creating authentic connections between learning and teaching in real world environments'

Disciplines included in the WIL activity

Creative Industries Faculty including: Acting; Animation; Architecture; Arts management; Creative writing and literary studies; Dance; Drama; Entertainment industries; Fashion; Film and screen; Industrial design; Interactive and visual design; Interior design; Journalism; Landscape architecture; Media and communication; Music; Technical production; Visual arts.

Model of WIL activity

  • Industry/community-based internships
  • Industry/community-based placements

Brief description of WIL activity

This project is a series of blended-learning online modules designed to support students and their industry partners progressively throughout the major stages of a WIL internship placement: preparation, industry engagement, and reflection, and to allow students to access material relevant to their particular timeframe, relevant to their particular placement.

The modules are designed to deliver the learning in a progressive pathway that mirrors the stages of the internship, to utilise technology that can be accessed anywhere and anytime (on phones, tablets and computers) and to have assessment that can be completed while in the workplace to integrate academic learning and real-world learning. They are delivered in conjunction with disciplinary Academic Supervision and rolling face-to-face lectures.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

These modules have been actively used by students since June 10th 2016, for enrolment in semester 2 2016. Each semester has approximately 400-460 students. Approximately 25% of students complete them in advance of semester to take advantage of industry timeframes. The project has has had 4 successful semesters (including feedback reviews) since that time.

Who benefits from the WIL activity

The Creative Industries Faculty (CIF) internship program supports complex industry-based learning, accessed by students from 19 different disciplines, any time throughout the year and throughout the world.

The direct benefit of the modules is for students, industry partners and academic staff supervising in this CIF program, but the wider benefit is for all higher education university (and potentially VE) programs who require flexible WIL teaching frameworks that can be responsive to industry timeframes. These modules now support direct input (including feedback and teaching resources) by alumni and industry partners who deliver relevant information from their personal and professional experience.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

The innovation of this project is in the delivery of a teaching and learning framework that is responsive to general needs of students, industry and university, while supporting individual WIL experiences in an integrated and meaningful way. While many online delivery models offer progressive learning at the student’s pace, what differentiates this model is the responsive industry-based modules used in combination with remote supervision and rolling face-to-face induction lectures. Students tailor when they access resources in relation to the specific timing of their internship and delivery of material by industry partners and alumni allows students to access relevant real-world material.

How adaptable is the WIL activity to other disciplines, sectors, teaching practices etc?

These modules are already highly adaptable as they span 19 different disciplines. While the content delivered from industry partners and alumni is based within the creative industries, the structure of the learning pathway allows for discipline-specific content to be easily tailored to other industries. The progression mapped in these modules is the same for all internships/placements and is directly related to new specific learnings in the workplace. This model looks at ‘employability’ skills developed during a WIL experience and has relevance in vocational training as well as Higher Education and assessments can be tailored to unit (and course) learning outcomes.

How sustainable is the WIL activity beyond its immediate implementation?

These modules can be nuanced or edited and resources added at any time. Additionally, they can be duplicated for subsequent or progressive units with bespoke content added to each section – a future plan for this program. The modules have had 4 iterative redevelopments since inception mid 2016, each based on student, staff and industry feedback. Advanced level units have recently been added (starting in 2018) that were easily added to the existing program and now allow students to progress into deeper engagement with industry. This flexibility allows a variety of approaches to teaching based on curriculum and university requirements.

How is the success of the WIL activity evaluated?

The new modules were progressively evaluated throughout the first semester’s delivery with informal feedback from academic staff and direct feedback from students (n=409). Of the students who had engaged in both models, 63.33% said yes to the question: “Did the changes in assessment type and delivery format (online modules) better support your workplace learning this semester?”

In addition to specific questions around assessment in the modules, 70.31% of students said that the online delivery format (modules) supported their academic engagement in the workplace. Students, staff and industry partners have been surveyed in each subsequent semester to inform iterative changes.

What are the wider impacts of the WIL activity beyond completion?

While there isn’t enough evidence to fully demonstrate the wider impact of these modules, early feedback suggests that they have capacity to expand into other Faculties and potentially the university. Another strength of this module approach is that students can engage in an international WIL placement with the same resources as a student engaging with the program domestically.

Due to the flexibility of these teaching and learning models and their ability to adapt across disciplines and incorporate additional advanced-level units, they have any number of applications for academics wanting to create authentic connections between university learning and workplace learning.

How does the WIL activity approach the preparation, implementation and reflection phases of WIL?

These modules are designed to support students and their industry partners progressively throughout the major stages of a WIL internship: preparation, industry engagement, and reflection with specific resources for these quite different times, including advice from industry partners who outline their expectations at each stage.

The ‘reflection’ stage has also been broken into two stages – the first involves answering short reflective questions in situ (the workplace), and the second reflects on changes that have resulted from the internship for future practice. These are delivered with different teaching approaches and the assessment reflects the depth expected for each type of reflection.

What are the learning outcomes of the WIL activity and how do they link to graduate attributes?

The Learning Outcomes of this program include: Identifying and implementing relevant disciplinary knowledge, concepts, skills and practices; gaining new knowledge via practice-based approaches; professional communication; working independently and collaboratively; and critically evaluating own performance.

These learning outcomes support students to develop the graduate attributes of work readiness; new industry knowledge; and new understanding of yourself as an emerging practitioner. Industry partners have also identified a need for adaptability, listening skills, refection, problem solving skills and resilience. These attributes link into ‘employability’ skills required across all industries and drive the teaching and learning in this program.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

Some students have previous industry experience and their preparation is at a different stage to students without past work experience. Future iterations will take industry experience into consideration by micro-credentialing aspects of the program and crediting some ‘prior learning’.

Additionally the differences between industry types will be taken into consideration.  Architecture is usually situated within a company infrastructure, whereas journalism, visual art and creative writing can be sole traders – this poses risk variations, differences in workplace culture and networking opportunities that could be supported more effectively.

Both variations will be developed to support diversity in future student cohorts.

Creating authentic connections between learning and teaching in real world environments

Modules Homepage – this image shows the first entry point into the modules site. Three semesters are running concurrently with different start and finish times and students are enrolled into the relevant semester depending on when their internship starts and finishes.

Once students enter the site, they then click into the relevant unit in the relevant semester. They can also elect to take two units in one semester. This option was added to the modules site in semester 2 2017.

Modules Welcome

Modules Welcome – this image shows the introduction to Phase 1 – preparation. Each Phase has a welcome page that explains the learning progression through that particular phase and the relevant assessment. It also explains how to turn on closed captions for videos and where the resources are located for this phase. There is also a short (2 minute) welcome video that introduces the key learnings for this phase. This image also shows the navigation of this phase and the entire modules site. Students cannot click forward until they have completed all required learning of the current module, but they can see future navigation, including upcoming assessments.

Modules Assessment

Modules Assessment – this image shows the Assessment Tab on the homebar that is available at any stage. This outlines the required assessment for each phase and includes due dates. There are no links on this page except to the criteria sheets – the page is for reference only. Submission links are embedded throughout the site to ensure student’s progress through the teaching material.

Modules Industry Video

Modules Industry Video – this image shows a resource page embedded into Phase 1 – preparation. This page has an embedded video that can be watched on mobiles, tablets and computers and lasts 4 minutes. Each video page includes a rationale for watching the video, the Key Learnings from the video and the video length. Each Industry Partner Video has 4-6 industry partners discussing a particular industry question. This one focuses around ‘What makes a good application?’.