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  • Writer's pictureAlana Harris

Learning - apply and practice!

Updated: Jul 4, 2021

There is value in taking what we know and putting it into practice but what does this application and practice look like in a course of learning?

Increasing demand for practical experience

We are in an environment where there is growing demand for opportunities to put learning into practice. Learners want more practical experience during their studies so they can take their qualification and 'hit the ground running'. This aligns with the a rapidly changing workplace and the need to be and remain current. Employers and the government are also focused on a range skills that ready learners for the needs of modern and evolving workforce. This focus is not limited to Australia, the recent World Economic Forum highlights the rapid pace of technology adoption, automation, digitalising work processes and expansion of remote working environments as trends in The Future of Jobs Report 2020.

Integrating experience

Touch points between learning and real-world experience are usually offered through Work Integrated Learning (WIL). WIL offers a range of experiences which generally cover placements (where learners spend time in a workplace), projects (which might be co-designed or assigned with a client), fieldwork (learners collecting or monitoring in a relevant setting) and simulations (where a real life setting is simulated in the learning environment) according to Universities Australia Work Integrated Learning in Universities: Final Report. Some courses of study have requirements for placements for professional registration (such as teaching or nursing). Whereas other courses of study include WIL as a value-add or in response to learner demand. As a result, some WIL (especially placements and internships) are either considered 'core' or 'elective', depending on the course.

Mapping experiences and skills

As the demand for experience grows and the pressure for 'job-ready' graduates increases, it might be time to take a more sophisticated approach to practical and applied experiences. On way of meeting this need it to explicitly state the subjects that offer a WIL component, and what that component might look like. For example across a course of study a learner might be involved in arranging an event, conducting interviews with experts in their field, run a simulation (in person or online), compete in a challenge in a team against other teams of learners (locally or internationally).

These activities should be articulated alongside the course structure to show how learnings are applied and skills are developed as learners progress through their course of study. By capturing this activity and communicating the learners' opportunities to apply learning and gain experience during study, a more nuanced picture of the learning offered can be presented.

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