Global Virtual WIL Projects: Community Action Research and Program Development for Indigenous Youth in Canada

Case Studies | Research Grants 2020

Institution:

RMIT University

Discipline:

VE/Trades

Model/s of WIL activity:

Industry/community based placement

Level activity is delivered:

Program-wide

Global Virtual WIL Projects: Community Action Research and Program Development for Indigenous Youth in Canada

RMIT Youth Work students engage in a project-based virtual global WIL activity aimed at understanding sociological issues impacting Indigenous Youth.

RMIT students doing a Diploma and CERT IV in Youth Work participate in a 10 week long international community-based placement project virtually, in Canada. These virtual projects are co-designed with our Canadian partner Unique Get Together Society (UGTS) and were established during COVID-19. These global virtual projects provide students opportunities to apply their course specific skills in a global context and learn about the identified needs of Indigenous young people.

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

Various placement projects offered under this WIL activity since 2020.

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

‘Global Virtual WIL projects: Community Action Research and Program Development for Indigenous Youth in Canada’ provides RMIT Youth Work students an excellent opportunity to practice their learning in the global context of youth work. By looking at the sociological issues impacting young Indigenous people in Canada and Australia, students are provided with opportunities to investigate similar issues across these Countries regarding youth demographics and Indigenous populations.

The WIL activity demonstrates good practice by providing students freedom to choose to work on an area of interest. For example, students have focused on disability support for young people, the needs of young people and their families, program development and funding submissions. These projects are innovative as they provide students opportunities to transfer community action research into program development.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

Students benefit through applying and further developing their course and industry specific skills such as networking, program development, grant writing, funding submissions, needs assessment, social action research and teamwork. Students also benefit from working in a digital space which is helpful in transition into hybrid modes of post-pandemic workplaces.

UGTS, the partner organisation, benefits through developing solutions for the identified needs of their target groups, Indigenous young people in their local community. It helps them to save resources including staff time.  For example, recently eight of our diploma students conducted a needs assessment for young people attending the organisation and used this information to develop eight different programs and funding submissions.

RMIT University has benefited in terms of providing global placement opportunities for its learners and developing a sustainable relationship with a global organisation. As the world of work is changing, it’s important for an education provider to have connections beyond their local community. With UGTS, in 2021, we were able to provide placement opportunities for 25 students doing youth work courses. This partnership also helped to fill the gaps in placement availability due to COVID-19.

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

We have set up regular evaluations throughout the project. Partner organisations meet with students once in a week to evaluate the progress of the project and provide ongoing feedback. Partner organisation, teaching team and students meet midway through the project to evaluate student experience, student support and progress of the project tasks.

All students complete evaluation reports and reflections as part of their assessments which provides an opportunity to evaluate the learning outcomes. We also have an end of project evaluation meeting with students and partners through which all stakeholders discuss the process, outcomes, learning experience and areas for further improvement.

The international collaboration with Unique Get Together Society was conducted virtually, but in a short period time our team were able to produce professional industry standard pieces of work, highlighting the benefits of adapting vocational learning to current workplace contexts. A major highlight of my experience within the organisation was conducting research within the context of another country” (Isabel Kinrade, Diploma of Youth Work student, Program development and grant writing project, 2021)

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders? 

This global virtual WIL project provides students opportunities to practice and further develop their skills in the global context of youth work which will have positive impacts for their future employment outcomes. Maintaining a sustainable relationship with the partner organisation is the evidence of long-term positive impact for the organisation and their target group. As a VE program, the positive experience with this global virtual WIL activity project gives us the confidence to develop further global virtual WIL activities for our student cohorts; we are able to develop WIL partnerships with four other Global organisations.  For wider communities, such placement research project work could inform current knowledge and good practice of indigenous youth participation for decision making.

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula? Include how it incorporates the preparation, implementation, and reflection/debriefing phases of WIL.

To prepare students for WIL there were two inductions, one through RMIT and one through the partner organisation. These inductions discuss project requirements and expectations, etiquette in a global digital workspace, target population details and more. Students also are provided an option to complete an online orientation WIL module. All projects are designed to develop skills in social research, needs assessment, programs development and program evaluation which is integral part of the curricula. During different stages of WIL activity, students demonstrate skills in teamwork, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, mentoring and creativity. Students complete assessments tasks such as project proposals, program plan, evaluation reports and reflections. This WIL activity is designed to integrate the mandatory placement hours students need to complete as part of their Youth Work course.

Describe how the case study is informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship. Include relevant references.

There is a big shift in the skills needed for the work force in the new world of work (Indrawan et al., 2020). One of the strategies to prepare the learners for the new world of work is to implement project-based learning which provide opportunities for practice and further develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and creativity (Megayanti et al., 2020). A recent survey conducted by ACEN and presented during the ACEN Webinar on “WIL and graduate outcomes” (Jackson D, 2022), it’s evident that Global WIL has a significant impact on student’s employment outcomes in the changing world of work. Global virtual WIL projects are an excellent way to provide such WIL opportunities for learners.

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

We continue to offer students projects through this organisation including a new project on developing resources to share information on culture, language, celebration and food with the Australian Indigenous community to the Canadian counterpart.

References

Jackson D & Dean, B.AB., 2022. WIL and Graduate outcomes (Webinar). Australian Collaborative Education Network Limited, 04 May 2022.

Indrawan E,. Jalinus N., & Syahril, (2020). Project-Based Learning in Vocational Technology Education: Study Of Literature. International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research, 9(2), http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/feb2020/Project-based-Learning-In-Vocational-Technology-Education-Study-Of-Literature.pdf

Megayanti, Busono, T., & Maknun, J. (2020). Project-based learning efficacy in vocational education: Literature review. IOP Conference Series. Materials Science and Engineering, 830(4), 42075–. https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/830/4/042075

Case Study Leader

Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

Ani Tom Vellaramkunnel

VE Teacher, RMIT University