Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

E-WIL in Student Education

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

E-WIL in Student Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the Dawkins reforms of the late 1980s, the higher education sector in Australia has experienced significant changes to its autonomy and position as a provider of education under a range of Federal government reform policies. Under these changes, universities are moving to a new model of education in which knowledge production and research are no longer carried out solely by, or within, an education institution or segment. These institutions are being compelled by market forces to be responsive to the needs of the students as well as the demands of different stakeholders who, one way or another, exert an influence on the lives and careers of graduates. These demands include governments' desires for universities to be responsive and adaptive to economic needs, students' demand for courses to be more relevant to the workforce, universities' wishes to improve graduate employment outcomes, and businesses' requirements for 'work-ready' graduates who do not require substantial internal training costs to deal with the reality of modern professional practice within a competitive environment (Brodie & Irving, 2007; Garrick & Kirkpatrick, 1998; McLennan & Keating, 2008; Reeders, 2000). Driven by market forces, educational institutions have had to review and revamp their products and services to meet these needs. One of the increasingly popular responsive strategies for Australian universities, in their contemporary role as educator and agent of government in responding to economic needs, has been Material published as part of this publication, either on-line or in print, is copyrighted by the Informing Science Institute. Permission to make digital or paper copy of part or all of these works for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage AND that copies 1) bear this notice in full and 2) give the full citation on the first page. It is permissible to abstract these works so long as credit is given. To copy in all other cases or to republish or to post on a server or to redistribute to lists requires specific permission and payment of a fee. Contact Publisher@InformingScience.org to request redistribution permission. the adoption of WIL (Work-Integrated-Learning) as a pedagogy.

WIL has been defined by Precision Consultancy (2007, p. 29) as "the generic term used to describe a range ofprograms which provide students with a combination of workplace experience and formal learning which are integrated as part of a course of study in higher education." The variations in the nature of experiential learning contexts among various programs make it difficult to derive a more specific definition for WIL. The scoping study of Patrick, et al. (2008, p. 9) identifies several synonymous terms that have been used in referring to WIL, such as "practicum", "professional practice", "internship", "workplace learning", "industry-based learning", "project-based learning", "work placement", and "cooperative education". The reason for the association of these terms with WIL was that they have been the common approaches adopted by WIL-oriented universities for students' workplace experience and formal learning in different disciplines or courses (McLennan & Keating, 2008).

A curriculum that combines on-campus classroom learning with experiential work related learning is gaining increasing interest and acceptance among governments, students, industry, and universities (Abeysekera, 2006; Barnett, Parry, & Coate, 2001; Coll & Zegwaard, 2006; Reeders, 2000; Smith, Mackay, Challis, & Holt, 2006). To provide relevant and meaningful learning experience through WIL, the production of academic capital has frequently moved beyond its traditional boundaries by involving a wider spectrum of stakeholders, including students, government, industry, professional bodies, and community. This change in direction demands inclusive programmes that equalise and promote participation opportunities for students in their interactions with some or all of these stakeholders. …

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