Reinventing the Classroom: A webcast recap on authentic experiential learning in the ChatGPT era

Riipen and the Society for Experiential Education (SEE) hosted a webcast highlighting strategies for educators to adapt to disruptive technologies and create work-based learning models.
July 20, 2023
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On April 27, 2023, an enlightening webcast titled "Reinventing the Classroom: The Need for Real-World and Authentic Projects in a ChatGPT Era" was hosted collaboratively by Riipen and the Society for Experiential Education (SEE). This thought-provoking conversation presented strategies to help educators adapt to disruptive technologies and design scalable work-based learning models to bridge the gap between academia and the workplace.

The speaker lineup featured Dave Savory, Co-Founder and VP Experiential Learning at Riipen, a platform that focuses on embedding short-term, skill-specific projects into course curriculums, Annie Kurtin, Experiential Design lead at the University of Arizona, and Allie Danziger, CEO and Co-Founder of Ampersand, a career readiness platform. The three speakers discussed the need for students to gain real-world experience, increase employability skills, and foster professional connections.

The experiential learning revolution

Dave Savory emphasized the need for addressing inequity in traditional work-based learning models. He stressed the importance of fostering transferable skills such as adaptability, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Savory also showcased how the platform is expanding access from traditional in-person internships to offering shorter, flexible online group project experiences, aiming for equity and inclusion.

He highlighted the impact of disruptive technologies like ChatGPT on education, underlining that educators should customize learning to support the adoption of new skills and digital competencies vital for the modern and future job market. However, Savory also warned against over-reliance on technology, which could dampen critical thinking skills, social aptitude, and creativity.

The faculty perspective

Annie Kurtin, who leads experiential learning design at the University of Arizona, gave insights into the challenges of integrating work-based learning into the curriculum, especially in humanities, social sciences, and some scientific fields. She underscored the need to support faculty in curriculum redesign and manage the scaling of work-based learning to larger class sizes. She also highlighted the importance of protecting time for students to engage in such experiences and argued for the inclusion of real projects with multiple viable solutions as a part of their coursework.

Preparing students for the workforce

Allie Danziger, CEO of Ampersand, emphasized the need for career-ready talent and how her organization helps equip new professionals for the workforce. She noted that many new hires often lack essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. To mitigate this, she suggested implementing work-based learning methodologies in education, like aligning incentives, offering protected time, providing resources, and encouraging reflection.

She also stressed that while AI technologies like ChatGPT are rapidly evolving, they cannot replace the real-life work experiences needed to prepare students for future careers. Practical skills such as researching, presenting findings, accepting and adjusting to feedback, meeting deadlines, and communicating effectively in various settings remain crucial.

The road ahead

The webcast concluded with an insightful Q&A, addressing the challenges in implementing work-based learning in educational institutions, including lack of resources or funding, industry partnerships, and difficulties in evaluating the impact on student outcomes.

It was also highlighted that experiential learning is not just limited to business and internships. It can also encompass international travel, volunteering, job shadowing, and mentorship. The idea of project-based experiential learning was underlined, connecting students with employers for real-world projects integrated into their academic programs.

The conversation reaffirmed the necessity of embracing grassroots over top-down approaches when introducing new teaching methods.

The invitation to continue the conversation on LinkedIn and an opportunity to study a case on the impact of work-based learning on employability outcomes are positive steps.

To view the full webcast, click here.


About Riipen

As the world's largest online work-based learning marketplace, Riipen makes it easy for higher education institutions and industry partners to collaborate on flexible project-based experiential learning opportunities embedding real-life business challenges directly into the curriculum. To learn more about our innovative work-based learning platform and how working with Riipen can result in improved student engagement and student employability outcomes, use this link to request a demo with the Riipen team.

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