Building Future Skills Through Experiential Learning and Micro-Credentialing

 

The accelerating pace of technology-driven change is transforming the future of work faster than ever before.

Some 30 per cent of the jobs that today’s students are studying for are under threat from automation by 2030. The World Economic Forum claims that the gap between what people learn and the skills they need is widening, as traditional learning no longer equips students with the knowledge they need to thrive. Global employers like Google, Apple, PWC, IBM and Bank of America no longer require a college degree. Education thinkers like Jack Ma are calling for a revolution in what we teach and how we teach.

The growing value of experience

Experiential learning is a critical tool for higher education providers to meet this challenge. Experiential or work-integrated learning builds employability skills through professional placements, projects, accelerators, internships, mentoring and skills credentialing. These initiatives build trans-disciplinary skills including collaboration, creativity, leadership and resilience. They engage learners with real-world activities and challenges. Innovation in experiential learning is one of the keys to successful education in the 21st century. Employability and the development of globally relevant skills are very important to more than five million international students and to the institutions who serve them. Australian higher education providers have embraced strategic commitments to deliver this kind of education to every student. However there are challenges: these valuable experiences are often complex, and costly to manage, monitor and quality assure.

These challenges can be overcome with good instructional design, efficient management, and smart technology. In working with many universities, governments and employers in Australia and around the world, we at Practera have observed some common factors in successful experiential learning programs:

  • support for learners – to apply knowledge to new settings and complex problems
  • meaningful engagement – with experienced practitioners aligned with program learning outcomes
  • shared, valuable objectives and a common framework – for student, mentor and educator collaboration
  • facilitation of the critically reflective learning process – which is required for competency and character development
  • credentialing frameworks – which link learning and experience to global skills.

Australian state governments are supporting large-scale project networks, which enable thousands of international students every year from Australian higher education institutes to undertake real projects with Australian governments, businesses and community organisations. These projects lead to real outcomes, further work experience and jobs for international students. They may also result in government-endorsed digital certificates, which can be displayed on social media.

Designed on an even larger scale, the New South Wales Government – through Study NSW – recently initiated the Global Trade Accelerator platform built on Practera. This platform connects Australian exporters with international students to complete virtual market research projects on offshore markets. The accelerator platform is supported by Austrade, the Export Council of Australia and the Global Trade Professionals Alliance. Within two months of launching, the platform enabled 31 exporters to receive reports from 250 students from four universities, and achieved a satisfaction rating of 80 per cent from students and 75 per cent from employers.

Programs in Asia

In Asia, RMIT Vietnam has initiated Personal Edge, a global employability skills e-portfolio and microcredentialing program. All 6,000 students in Vietnam are engaged in Personal Edge employability skills sessions. They are encouraged to seek out experiences and record evidence of their experiential learning aligned to six skill categories, including ‘digital citizen’, ‘confident communicator,’ and ‘cross-cultural team leader’. Students’ reflections are reviewed by RMIT careers advisors and micro-credentialed with open badges on a social media-friendly skills transcripts.

Experiential learning creates opportunities for students. It gives them new employability options and helps them to keep learning new skills throughout their careers. Practera’s experiential learning and micro-credentialing platform enables students to access and document their activities and experiences. Through this, we help educators make experiential learning more engaging and accessible for millions of students around the world.

Authors: Suzy Watson, Beau Leese

This is an extract from “Innovation in Employability” report published by Austrade on 25.03.2019. The full report can be found here.

 

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