This blog discusses the roles and trends of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in the technology sector and also touches on my experiences with web conferencing with a partner for this blog.
An adult educator today has more roles than in the past. Now, There are a variety of different methods and experiences that can be used to improve on the traditional classroom environment.
For this post, my project partner, Brian (blog), and I focused on Worked Intergrated Learning (a.k.a WIL). This particular extension of the classroom allows students to transition smoothly to their first job by working while they learn and learning by doing. For the most part, you will see this type of learning in apprenticeships for trades and co-op courses in college/university. Brian and I both see the same type of learning in our jobs although in a different manner. In my case, employees like to experience new aspects of the business and if they want to do that they will need to learn on the go to keep business as usual. It is essentially cross training the employee by it still encompasses that learn by doing experience seen in WIL.
In my opinion, the role of an educator can be better understood by knowing the audience they are trying to teach. In her (paper), Franziska Trede discusses three theoretical ideas of identity that apply to WIL, they are:
- The conscious self at the centre of professional identity development;
- The power of social relations; and
- The power of language and discourse.
These three groupings help the educator understand what the end goal is for these students. They need to not only prepare them with the facts and knowledge but also the ability to apply this knowledge in the right environment. By working while they learning, students learn who they are in the professional world, figure out how to deal with certain situations and problem solve with co-workers. By doing this, students gain invaluable insights and skills that they would not get in the traditional classroom environment.
As mentioned before, in my field that is technology, there are many employees trying to get cross-trained. This could be for a few reasons, particularly to try something new to see if they like it (more), or to gain new skills they can apply to their career to improve their standing in the company. On the other side of things, there is a lot of head-hunting that can happen in the industry so company’s can be reluctant to train employees on new skills or jobs out of fear they will leave for greener grass.
This is a difficult trend to change because the employer and the employee need to compromise on a situation. I believe that the employer should always help their employees improve because it will benefit everyone later on. If the company is worried about employees leaving instead of harnessing their initiative then something is wrong anyway. In a perfect world, employees would get a few hours a week to work on a skill that is related to their current field or one they want to get into within the company. This way everyone is happy. The employee is improving their skills with the company in mind.
For this blog, I spent some time discussing WIL with Brian over Skype. It was interesting to hear how he applied cross-training and WIL within his workplace and he explained how the apprenticeships work at his job.
The web conferencing itself was a little intimidating at first since you are skyping with a stranger that you have never met in person. After the introductions are done and you are over the initial shock it was easy to get down to business to discuss what we had learned about WIL. I found this to be a valuable assignment because we were able to talk about our ideas and really fine tune them by bouncing ideas off each other.
I would definitely try this again if I had a group project since it did not mean we had to be in the same location even if scheduling a call was sometimes tough. In the end, everything went well and we were able to help each other along through the process of this blog.