Three compelling examples of work-based learning (work-integrated learning) experiences in higher education

October 27, 2023
5 min
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Every higher education institution thrives on innovation and the persistent quest for excellence, adapting its teaching methods to resonate with the needs of modern students. 

To achieve this, many forward-thinking institutions integrate work-based learning into their curriculums, seamlessly blending classroom theory with practical industry experiences. It's more than just an educational trend—it's a proven transformative journey that yields tangible results.

This article highlights inspiring examples from colleges and universities that have harnessed work-based learning (work-integrated learning) to provide richer, holistic educational outcomes. These initiatives are setting a new gold standard in shaping the next generation of professionals. So, let's dive in.

Key takeaways

  • Using a work-based learning platform, the University of California, Riverside Extension was able to expand opportunities for their international students.
  • Dr. Nidhi Shah championed the integration of work-based learning into the curriculum, allowing students to connect with real-world companies and prepare for genuine industry challenges.
  • Marie-Maxime Bastien at Collège André-Grasset adopted virtual learning to accommodate those incapable of attending in-person training.

Example 1: Expanding opportunities for international students

When the University of California, Riverside Extension (UCR) realized their international students faced a serious challenge—visa restrictions barring them from traditional internships—Lisa Miller, Director of International and Professional Programs, took action. She integrated the Riipen platform into the curriculum, crafting a pathway for project-based learning experiences.

Lisa and her team wanted to give these students a semblance of the American work experience they yearned for. Through Riipen, they were able to:

  • Navigate visa hurdles by giving students equitable access to a platform they can use to immerse themselves in authentic work-based learning scenarios, despite their visa limitations.
  • Support domestic transitioners by tailoring programs for continuing education students, enabling them to explore career changes beyond traditional internships.
  • Ensure industry relevance by immersing students in tasks and projects that directly reflect the challenges faced by today's industries.

The program's success allowed international students to start adding substantial experiences to their CVs. Domestic students gained clarity on potential career directions. 

And the educators? They were soon won over by Riipen's evident impact.

Highlighting the initiative's sweeping achievements, Lisa Miller stated, “Riipen was the key we needed, fitting seamlessly into our vision of a rich, experiential, work-based curriculum. The dividends? Clear for all to see.” To read more details about the program's success, read this article.

Example 2: Integrating work-based learning in the classroom

Nidhi Shah had a unique academic experience in India while seeking her MBA in 1999. She was steeped in an academic environment that seamlessly blended textbook knowledge with real-time industry interaction. 

This potent mix of classic education and hands-on industry insights would shape her educational ethos for decades. When UCR University Extension decided to collaborate with Riipen, Dr. Shah saw the opportunity to infuse her curriculum with the innovative, industry-driven learning that she experienced herself.

She immediately felt excitement, saying, "As soon as they mentioned work-based learning, I knew this was exactly what I had been searching for all these years." With Riipen, Dr. Shah was able to:

  • Bridge academic gaps by allowing students to connect directly with real-world companies rather than just addressing hypothetical scenarios. 
  • Provide every student, irrespective of their background or resources, a taste of authentic industry challenges and level the playing field in their academic journey.
  • Revamp curriculum dynamics by intertwining academic objectives with genuine company goals, ensuring assignments weren't just about grades but about addressing tangible business challenges.
  • Infuse industry perspective into projects so students could receive feedback from both her and seasoned professionals.

The integration of Riipen into the curriculum bore remarkable fruits. By the end of the semester, students could handle real-world corporate challenges confidently, and their performance on Riipen projects far exceeded their theoretical assignments, which was a testament to their abilities.

Reflecting on the journey and the undeniable transformation in her students, Dr. Shah asserts, "Riipen projects provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to engage with real-world companies. This isn't just about grades or passing a class. It's about preparing them for the world beyond these walls. It's a value proposition that can't be ignored."

For more information, be sure to check out this article

Example 3: Harnessing virtual platforms as an alternative to in-person learning requirements

Marie-Maxime Bastien, a respected educator at Collège André-Grasset, faced an educational quandary with the onset of the pandemic. Her cherished course was built upon the premise of in-person observation—a key experiential cornerstone. 

Yet, the pandemic abruptly halted in-person learning, compelling educators like Marie-Maxime to swiftly reinvent their teaching methodologies. In a pivotal decision, Marie-Maxime embraced the capabilities of the Riipen platform, turning a challenge into a transformative learning opportunity. 

The mission? To still provide her students with the richness of real-world exposure, albeit in a novel, virtual format. With Riipen's arsenal at her disposal, Marie-Maxime managed to:

  • Break traditional boundaries: Where location and physical barriers had once reigned, now students had the freedom to select projects echoing their passions.
  • Provide authentic experiences: Students weren't just completing assignments; they were impacting real-world business challenges, enhancing elements like existing websites.
  • Bridge the academic-industry divide: The platform facilitated learning and simulated genuine professional dynamics between students and industry employers.

By winter 2022, the proof was in the outcomes. Project offerings doubled, students armed themselves with invaluable skills, and doors to future internships began to creak open.

Reflecting on these changes in education, Marie-Maxime explains, "Riipen's platform wasn't just a tool—it became the linchpin of experiential learning for my students. Watching them thrive, engage, and grow? That's the true measure of success. This isn't just about teaching; it's about shaping future professionals." 

Dive deeper into this transformative journey by reading this article.

Unlock the power of work-based learning

Each of the inspiring stories shared above weaves a common narrative: the essential role of a unified platform where higher education institutions can connect with thousands of organizations worldwide to collaborate on authentic, real-world projects. That's precisely what Riipen provides.

In fact, colleges and universities that have used Riipen have found that:

  • 87% of learners saw a noticeable enhancement in both their soft and hard skills, preparing them to step confidently into the professional world.
  • 86% of learners, through their experiences, gained career clarity.
  • 87% of learners expanded their professional circle, laying down the bricks for future collaborations and opportunities.

Riipen's distinction lies not just in its global reach and access to over 31,000 industry partners, but in the meticulous features it curates, such as:

  • Intuitive matchmaking: Use a sophisticated recommendation engine to find the perfect projects and industry partners.
  • Rapid project creation: With pre-built templates for project-based learning and a robust support system, Riipen makes integrating work-based learning projects into your curriculum easy.
  • Advanced management tools: Leverage comprehensive tools for team assembly, progress tracking, and project management to ensure every student's journey is immersive, engaging, and well-charted.
  • Equitable learning: By allying with industries around the globe, Riipen obliterates geographical boundaries, allowing students and institutions the opportunity to collaborate with partners outside of their local network or connections.

Join the ranks of hundreds of higher education institutions that have embraced work-based learning and built a stronger future for their students. Schedule a demo.

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