What’s happening in WPL in July?

COVID-19, social distancing and placements

Wondered how our BJBS students are coping going on placement during COVID-19? Although in some cases in the 202030 session placements needed to be deferred because the need for social distancing and travel restrictions just made it impossible to do some tasks (such as the overseas opportunities) placements continued across the faculty. Many of our Business, Accouting, Psychology and Engineering students did a virtual placement that operated just the same way we are all working during the pandemic – from home using video conferencing, file sharing, email and phone. Understandably some students were nervous about the lack of physical contact in an actual building where they could see and talk to colleagues. So what was their experience like?

Below are some examples of the work Nora Graver-Moevig produced during her virtual placement with the Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce. Nora was tasked with producing a campaign to encourage tourism and she conceived, researched and designed a series of stills three of which are featured here.

What did Nora think of working virtually? The following excerpt is from her placement reflection but it is quite typical of how most students felt. The comments may surprise you…

“I believe that completing a placement online has made me a better learner. My supervisor said that I could ask questions if something was unclear. The first couple of weeks I did ask for advice when I was feeling unsure. Because it could take time to receive a response via e-mail, I often had to solve the problems myself by for example watching tutorials for editing programs on YouTube, and by reading instruction guides.

The online placement has taught me that sometimes I ask for help too quick. I have experienced a different type of achievement this semester, when I get good feedback without having asked for help. I am aware that asking for help can be a good skill to have, however when help is always easily accessible, sometimes you start to rely on it. It can make you doubt your own problem-solving skills and when I doubt myself, I turn to look for help. After this placement I am more confident that I can complete most tasks by myself. I am not scared of challenges, because I have changed my mindset, and I believe in myself. I have received a lot of positive feedback for my work during this placement. The feedback has made me more confident, and I know my ability to do research and look for solutions rather than help has improved during this placement.”

The Australian Qualifications Network, micro-credentials, graduate employability and what it all means for teaching skills

The recent announcments for Education Minister Dan Tehan certainly have the university sector scrambling to understand what it all means financially if the current proposal goes ahead unchanged. Stemming from theses announcements, and of great interest to the WPL community, are the emerging discussions around the importance of employability skills which are accompanying the explanations of the proposed funding changes. Increasing employability skills in our students unquestionably leads to better graduate employability outcomes (a metric to measure of finding and keeping meaningful employment – not as accurate as it needs to be but we’ll save that elephant for another day). Just as importantly in these lean times improving student employability skills also benefits our economy in general. The following article from The Conversation offers some simple but useful insights into these connections and how skills can shape career pathways. Read the whole article “University students aren’t cogs in a market. They need more than a narrow focus on ‘skills’ ” here.

ACEN

The ACEN critical conversations are continuing with a really pleasing national roll-up. The next online conversation is scheduled for 9th July 11am – 12pm AEDT on the topic:

“Strengths and strategies of simulation-based education”.

Even though here at Charles Sturt we managed to adapt many placements to a virtual world, not all universities could. In this discussion you can hear how other instutitions tackled the COVID-19 placement problems with simulated experiences and what did (and didn’t) work.

Places are capped at 120 people. Register here if you are interested.