by the Australian Collaborative Education Network Board

While the benefits of work-integrated learning (WIL) for all stakeholders are well documented, we are often left to question whether education providers focus energy predominantly on operational and administrative activities at the expense of building educator capability to design quality WIL curriculum.  Both areas are equally important and are not mutually exclusive. As institutions roll out the National Priorities Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF) WIL streams of work, let us not forget the most important cornerstone of WIL –  collaborative WIL curriculum design.

As an intricate pedagogical approach that involves numerous industry partners and ‘lived’ curriculum experiences for students, there is a need to engage in WIL design for the right reasons, with a focus on student learning. Designing and implementing quality WIL curriculum requires careful consideration, academic capability, and the capacity to collaborate and co-design programmes with industry partners.

The pandemic compelled us to reconsider traditional WIL approaches, with remote WIL experiences for students and industry partners brought to the fore. This required WIL curriculum redesign that focussed on the nuances and perspectives of each stakeholder group and took into particular account the digital competencies of all stakeholders to optimise remote WIL activities.

To continue innovating beyond the pandemic, there is a need for enhanced educator capability, underpinned by scholarly practice, to design and implement quality WIL curriculum for all learning environments and types of WIL, including interdisciplinary WIL. WIL is not just about ‘placing’ students to ‘experience the world of work’.  We need to focus WIL curriculum on the learning-work nexus (theory in practice) aligned to learning outcomes and the ‘integrated’ component of WIL.

Quality WIL curriculum design is complex and multi-faceted. It focuses on the pre-, during and post- stages of WIL for all stakeholders. It must ensure activities that are authentic, consequential, appropriately meaningful and diverse; activities that require responsibility-taking and enable professional autonomy. These requirements sit alongside the need for student learning to be incrementally scaffolded, scalable, flexible, inclusive and embedded within courses for whole-of-degree coherency. That is a lot for education providers and educators to consider.

Join the ACEN Critical Conversations to be part of a national conversation as we continue to build cross-disciplinary capability across the WIL community of practitioners.



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