Case Study

Redefining higher education: Shannon Cox's journey with work-based learning on Riipen.

Explore Shannon Cox's transformative journey integrating work-based learning with Riipen, offering invaluable insights for educators to enhance learner engagement and outcomes. Discover the power of clear communication, structured checkpoints, impactful presentations, and reflective practices in maximizing Riipen's potential for a dynamic educational experience.
March 26, 2024
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In the evolving landscape of higher education, pioneers like Shannon Cox are revolutionizing learning paradigms through innovative solutions like Riipen, the world’s leading work-based learning platform. Shannon, a distinguished Marketing faculty member and program coordinator at Douglas College, which has campuses in New Westminster and Coquitlam, British Columbia, shares her enlightening journey integrating work-based learning (WBL) into the curriculum and leveraging Riipen's platform to enhance learner experiences and outcomes. Her dedication to practical application within the faculty of commerce and business administration, notably in the Marketing Practicum course, reflects a transformative approach that resonates beyond traditional textbook learning.

Join us as we delve deeper into Shannon Cox's journey with Riipen, uncovering invaluable tips and tricks from her years of experience. Shannon’s strategic utilization of Riipen and its capabilities serves as an example for educators striving to elevate their teaching methodologies and improve learner outcomes.

Evolution of work-based learning at Douglas College

While work-based learning has always been a fundamental aspect of Douglas College's ethos, its evolution over the years showcases a commitment to adaptability and innovation. Shannon's reflections offer a glimpse into the transformative journey that work-based learning has undergone, particularly with the advent of platforms like Riipen.

Before the integration of Riipen, Douglas College relied heavily on personal networks to facilitate work-based learning opportunities for its students. While this approach certainly yielded valuable experiences, it was not without its challenges. Shannon highlights the occasional struggles with time constraints in ensuring and confirming that industrial partners are ready to start their project with students at the beginning of the term, as well as mismatches between learners and employers. These hurdles underscored the need for a more structured and efficient system to connect educators, learners, and industry partners.

"The pivotal change arrived with Riipen's introduction," Shannon reflects, "unlocking new dimensions in work-based learning facilitation." By providing a streamlined platform for collaboration, Riipen revolutionized the way work-based learning initiatives were orchestrated at Douglas College. Shannon emphasizes the platform's role in facilitating early discussions between stakeholders, aligning expectations, and nurturing successful partnerships. With Riipen, educators gained access to a vast network of industry partners, making it easier to match learners with relevant opportunities. Riipen also allows instructors to define the student project requirements so that industry partners are working within the needs of the applied teaching curriculum.

One of the key strengths of Riipen lies in its ability to foster communication and set clear expectations for all parties involved. By establishing transparent project scopes and objectives, Riipen ensures that learners embark on work-based experiences that are aligned with their academic goals and career aspirations. This enhances the quality of learning and fosters a sense of realism and practicality that is invaluable in today's competitive job market.

Impact on learners and educators

Shannon's journey with Riipen has unfolded across various dimensions, each contributing to a richer educational experience for both learners and educators alike. From meticulously matching projects to fostering ongoing communication between learners and industry partners, Shannon's role underscores the platform's transformative impact on work-based learning.

"One of the most significant aspects of Riipen is the consistent interaction it fosters," Shannon notes. "It's not just about matching projects; it's about guiding learners and providing them with constructive feedback every step of the way."

The effects of this approach on learners are profound. Shannon has observed a noticeable increase in motivation among students participating in Riipen projects. Exposure to real-world scenarios not only deepens their understanding of industry dynamics but also clarifies their career trajectories. Through hands-on experiences facilitated by Riipen, learners gain valuable insights into different professional domains, helping them refine their career aspirations and identify areas of specialization.

Moreover, Shannon emphasizes Riipen's role in empowering learners to curate virtual portfolios, showcasing their tangible contributions to prospective employers. These portfolios, integrated seamlessly within Riipen's platform, serve as tangible evidence of students' practical competencies, bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world application. Students take away so much more when they are solving a "real-life case study" and present answers to owners who are counting on ideas for their business success.

But Riipen's impact extends beyond learners—it also revolutionizes the way educators engage with work-based learning initiatives. Shannon highlights the platform's effectiveness in facilitating collaboration among colleagues, enabling them to share project outlines, exchange ideas, and collectively brainstorm innovative solutions.

"Riipen has transformed the way we approach work-based learning at Douglas College," Shannon asserts. "Its user-friendly interface and robust features have led to increased adoption across our department, making our unit one of the most active on Riipen within the institution."

By leveraging Riipen's capabilities, educators at Douglas College are not only enhancing the quality of learning experiences for their students but also fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation within their academic community.

Shannon's tenured tips for educators to make the most of Riipen’s transformative potential

As a Riipen champion, Shannon offers invaluable advice to educators seeking to maximize the platform's transformative potential. Her insights, honed through years of experience, highlight the importance of strategic communication, structured checkpoints, impactful presentations, and reflective practices in ensuring the success of work-based learning initiatives. 

Clear and constant communication:

Shannon emphasizes that clear and constant communication is the bedrock of successful WBL experiences. Establishing channels for ongoing dialogue between learners, educators, and industry partners ensures alignment throughout the project lifecycle, starting with a clearly defined scope of the project the industry partner is bringing to the students. Shannon also advocates for setting clear communication expectations early on, outlining preferred modes of communication, response times, transparency, and regular updates to maintain project momentum and align expectations effectively. 

Structured midway check-ins:

Breaking down project timelines into manageable segments with predefined checkpoints is paramount. These checkpoints not only facilitate progress monitoring but also provide opportunities for collaborative feedback and support. Shannon encourages educators to view these check-ins as more than mere evaluations, emphasizing their role in fostering constructive dialogue and guiding learners toward success. "These check-ins are not just about evaluation; they're opportunities for constructive feedback and support," she emphasizes.

In this context, students engage in weekly check-ins as part of their iterative or agile work process. Additionally, they maintain consistent communication with the industry partner on a weekly basis. However, the pivotal mid-point check-in involves both the industry partner and the instructor. This check-in serves to verify that the project remains on track, ensures the students are maintaining regular communication with the partner, and confirms that the students grasp the partner's business concerns effectively.

Impactful final presentations:

Shannon values the significance of final presentations to the industry partners as a culmination of learners’ efforts. Encouraging learners to articulate their project outcomes fosters essential skills in communication and presentation. It also serves as a valuable learning experience, allowing learners to showcase their work, receive constructive feedback, and reflect on their journey. "These presentations aren't just about grading; they're about celebrating accomplishments and refining presentation skills," Shannon emphasizes.

Reflection and feedback:

Post-project completion, Shannon advises incorporating reflective practices. Encouraging learners to reflect on their experiences fosters self-awareness and critical thinking. Moreover, gathering feedback from industry partners provides a comprehensive view of learners’ performance and the project's impact. Shannon notes, "Reflection deepens the learning experience. It's not just about what was done but about what was learned and how to improve."


Shannon Cox's journey with Riipen at Douglas College exemplifies a profound shift in higher education, one that resonates deeply with educators and institutional leaders alike. Through her practical insights and experiences, Shannon has shed light on the transformative potential of work-based learning facilitated by platforms like Riipen.

For educators and leaders in higher education, Shannon's narrative offers a compelling vision of adaptability and innovation. Riipen's role in bridging academia and industry, enhancing learner engagement, and fostering practical skills aligns seamlessly with the evolving needs of modern education.

As we look to the future, Shannon's journey stands as a testament to the possibilities that lie ahead. With a commitment to collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement, educators and leaders can leverage platforms like Riipen to shape a more dynamic and impactful learning experience for all stakeholders involved.

To learn more about Riipen’s innovative work-based learning platform and how working with Riipen can result in improved learner engagement and employability outcomes, use this link to book a demo with the Riipen team.

About the author:

Jennifer Lussier is a bilingual Content Marketing Specialist based in Montreal, QC. With a multidisciplinary background and a desire to accomplish more for the betterment of society, she joined Riipen in 2019 as an Academic Account Manager and has since migrated to the marketing team as it is more closely aligned with her interests and expertise.

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