The Impact Centre strives to build a learning experience that brings education and the work environment together. Known as work-integrated learning (WIL), this type of experience has become increasingly popular over the last several years.

Work-integrated learning is a great way for students to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in university or college to the workplace. It gives them an opportunity to tackle real situations using their knowledge and skills in a way a classroom cannot provide. The concept of “transferable skills” becomes a living experience rather than a discussion topic.

 

In 2016, The Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed Bill 64, called “Protecting Interns and Creating a Learning Economy Act.” This bill was developed to include more practical work-integrated learning experiences into post-secondary education. The hope is that incorporation of WIL experiences will make students more prepared for the workforce. However, there is still a lot to determine on the administrative side of WIL implementation.

 

The Impact Centre is pushing the boundaries of education to determine how it can incorporate entrepreneurship into the equation.

It also hopes to improve and standardize best practices for teaching, assessing and evaluating the process on entrepreneurial-based work integrated learning.

 

On June 9th the Impact Centre held its first Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Community of Practice (CoP) Mini-Symposium. This event was organized in the hopes of creating an open discussion on current practices, challenges and future potential. Bringing people together to collaborate.

 

Instead of following the typical symposium outline of panels and each individual speaking one at a time, small groups were formed where people could present their case studies and receive advice from the rest of the group. This opened up discussion and created opportunities for collaboration and shared information. Each attendee was given an opportunity to share their questions and advice. This unrestricted environment lead to accessible conversations where everyone could participate, leading to some great discussions.

 

 

Some themes included academia and industry collaboration, the difficulties of program standardization, and ways to implement reflection and evaluation and how it benefits the student.

 

Ainsley Goldman, one of the participants said about the symposium, “It was really interesting to talk through everyone else’s case studies along with my own. I had a lot of fruitful conversations, and I now have several new specific approaches I plan to implement in our programming.”

 

Alon Eisenstein the architect of the WIL-CoP mini-symposium said, “It was a productive morning where individuals could collaborate and share advice about WIL education, and appreciate the challenges it poses.”

 

The symposium brought together people from multiple disciplines and backgrounds, such as the humanities, sciences, administrators, and educators.

This gave the discussions a variety of expertise, all working towards the same goal. Emina Veletanlić of the Impact Centre said, “Academic internship coordinators are often more concerned with program completion than with actual learning outcomes. However, this community is more hands-on with students, and more concerned with the actual pedagogy of work-integrated learning.”

 

The Impact Centre’s hope is that this WIL-CoP mini-symposium will grow to include more people invested in advancing the work-integrated learning experience, helping to develop a better education for students and a stronger and more employable workforce.

 

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