WIL and COVID-19 webinar

COVID-19 presents a crisis the globe has never experienced before. ACEN is starting a conversation about WIL in the context of COVID-19.

ACEN national survey and webinar update

A webinar was held on March 24 and prior to the event participants were invited to complete a survey which subsequently formed the basis of the webinar.

Strategies and issues raised in the webinar

This is a summary of the topics raised and strategies being implemented or suggested by participants of the first ACEN COVID-19 Webinar, March 24 2020.

There were 106 participants from 33 Australian institutions and 8 New Zealand institutions also participated. There is overwhelming support for ACEN Webinar coffee chats and a need for discipline-specific discussions.

Currently ACEN is collaborating with Professions Australia to advise the Government about professional course accreditations, internships and individual accreditation issues.


Strategies to accommodate changes / cancellation of placement

  • Reviewing what proportion of the placements counts for successful completion eg 8-10 weeks not 12 weeks
  • Transitioning to non-located placements, remote working
  • Looking at alternate WIL projects
  • Convert students to case study approaches
  • Changing the length of placements
  • Starting placements later
  • Extending completion dates
  • Transferring to capstone projects
  • Converting to Virtual WIL where possible
  • Considering Simulations
  • Creating subject options to replace internships
  • Replacing internships with series of virtual internships
  • Getting students involved in data collection and analysis instead of placement
  • Continuing on a project to replace a placement from home with the organisation
  • Research placements converted to campus based or remote projects
  • Assignments around their company or organisations if students need to leave their placement
  • Flexibility with a portfolio based approach
  • Virtual teams of students working on projects to get scale required
  • Introducing service learning with long arm supervision
  • Considering using third part providers


  • Platforms that access China needed
  • Using Zoom, Skype, Slack, Team, WebEx
  • Concern about whether technology will hold up with current demand What is plan B ?

Resources required

  • Online, virtual WIL, ideas, examples
  • Design thinking and solution seeking for students


  • Does it cover virtual WIL?
  • Universities checking insurance coverage
  • Logging hours to ensure insurance is covered
  • Will insurance cover students if they continue with placements in the pandemic

Communication with students

  • Need for clear communication with students
  • Check in, asking them to log hours for virtual WIL
  • Trying to reassure students
  • Concern about students remaining in their home country and ability to complete placements

Guidance / communication with accreditation/ Peak bodies

  • Guidance from AHPRA required, not sure if reduced hours for graduation will be allowed
  • Working with peak body to co-host webinars for not for profit organisations
  • Need flexibility from the Australian Public relations Institute
  • Reviewing accreditation requirements for education to see if they can provide online learning assistance for schools to keep students going

Quality WIL

  • Adapt the Quality WIL framework for Virtual / Online WIL

Virtual supervision

  • Need a framework
  • Need guides for online supervision
  • Host orgs must ensure supervisors are contact with supervisors multiple times a day, contact with team members at least twice
  • Negotiating communication protocols with host organisations
  • Working from home forms being discussed and completed
  • Forms that organisations sign that outline supervision, providing feedback , including students in team meetings

ACEN sessions moving forward

  • Sessions for VE
  • Sessions for Hospitality and Tourism
  • Health disciplines
  • Focus on Not for profit Organisations
Photo by De an Sun on Unsplash