AU$1M Experiential Learning Innovation Grants Program to help >100,000 young people build employability skills

AU$1M Experiential Learning Innovation Grants Program to help >100,000 young people build employability skills

Round 4 Expression of Interest Due Thu Oct 21. Click here for UK applications and here for AU applications

Australian edtech startup Practera has distributed more than AU$785,000  in in-kind grants to 21 Australian Universities to accelerate online experiential learning programs through Covid.

Across 3 rounds, Practera has already deployed  ~30 in-kind grants to Universities with the potential to benefit more than 100,000 learners through its platform technology.

The program aims to help University educators continue to innovate valuable experiential learning programs in the face of post-pandemic resource constraints and challenges. Practera will commit AU$1M in support through this program, With the recent launch of our UK office, round 4 will now be open to both Australian and UK educators. Applications for round 4 are open until 21st October 2021.  Click here for UK applications and here for AU applications  

Angie Knaggs, Senior Educational Designer in the UQ Faculty of Business, Economics and Law received a round 1 grant to work with Practera to develop a Faculty Capstone program – Learning by Doing in a Disruptive World. She said “We had already determined that Practera was the right platform for this flagship program, which is a highly applied, interdisciplinary and team-based unit with strong industry engagement, feedback loops and project-based collaboration. It was obviously however a challenging time to request funds for new technology, so from our perspective, the grant came at just the right time to enable us to move forward. The design & configuration project is underway and the Practera team are great to work with – we appreciate their investment in our program!”

Funded Projects Include

  • UNSW; 10x alumni startup mentoring program, business school project programs
  • Swinburne; Non-placement WIL (NPWIL) module suite 
  • Curtin University; In-curriculum Marketing & Innovation project units
  • ACU; Capstone WIL Unit, Faculty of Law & Business
  • University of Southern Queensland; Engineering Professional Practice E-Portfolio
  • La Trobe University; Digital Industry Projects
  • University of Adelaide; Adaptive Trade Leadership executive education program and Student-Industry Projects
  • RMIT Vietnam; E-portfolio & credentialing technology to support Personal Edge employability program
  • University of Melbourne; reflection & micro-credentialing system for global mobility
  • SCU, Kaher Institute & India partners; professional placement nurse mentoring for Indian nursing graduates
  • QUT; Transdisciplinary curriculum embedded industry project program
  • RMIT; in curriculum virtual projects for Business & Engineering
  • UWA; multi-disciplinary and neuro-linguistically diverse student project programs
  • University of Sydney; International alumni mentoring, Engineering R&D Projects with CSIRO
  • UQ; WEF 21C Skills Career Decidedness Program, BEL Faculty Capstone, Learning by Doing in a Disruptive World, UQ Business School Strategic Decision Making simulation
  • The University of Canberra; virtual internships & industry project platform
  • La Trobe University; cross-faculty innovation & entrepreneurship skills accelerator
  • Southern Cross University; International Nurse Placement mentoring
  • ECU; in-curriculum industry projects for Schools of Business & Law and Science
  • UniSA; Engineering digital industry projects
  • UTS; Engineering virtual professional experience modules (internship, projects, e-portfolio), Not for profit projects program with UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion

If you want to learn more about our products, please get in touch. We are looking forward to having a chat!


Beau Leese

Co-Founder & co-CEO, Practera

Mob. +61433 262 855

10 Employability Skills Universities Need to Teach Students

What Are Employability Skills?

The term ‘employability skills’ describes a group of core transferable skills and personal characteristics employers look for in potential job candidates. Applicants with these skills are attractive to future employers because they are more likely to perform effectively and become valuable team members.

If you are teaching university students, you can help them develop important skills that will foster their ability to work with teammates, solve workplace problems, meet project timelines, and stay up to date with industry changes. Employability skills are sometimes also known as soft skills, foundational skills, basic skills, or job-readiness skills. 

Are Employability Skills Different to Job Skills Specific for a Role?

Yes. Unlike the professional or technical job specific skills required for particular careers, employability skills are generic and necessary for almost every job. For example, communication and teamwork skills are vital in every industry, whether it’s in construction, healthcare, engineering, information technology, or the arts.

10 Job Skills Students Need to Develop

For university students, there’s more to tertiary education than gaining good marks and an academic qualification. While teaching classes, you can also be facilitating the development of key employability skills that will boost your students’ chances of finding a great job. Here are 10 examples of employability skills you can foster in your students.


Good communication skills are vital in every job. Communication involves the ability to express yourself clearly and effectively, both verbally and in writing, and strong listening skills. Communication skills also encompass the ability to use and interpret non-verbal language, such as gestures.

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You can support the development of communication skills in your students by encouraging them to:

  • blog and/or use social media to express their thoughts and ideas
  • give oral presentations as part of their studies
  • join a community group or club, or do paid work
  • practise active and empathetic listening 
  • join a public speaking, peer support or networking group.


Teamwork is essential for workplaces to operate efficiently. It involves the ability to work cooperatively to pursue shared goals. You could help students achieve better teamwork skills by recommending they:

  • participate in group assignments and projects throughout their course
  • join a sports team, study skills group or community organisation
  • establish relationships with people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds 
  • recognise their own strengths and limitations and those of their team mates
  • coach or mentor others.

Problem solving

In an increasingly complex world, students need the skills to understand, work through and solve problems. Challenges and setbacks are a normal part of working life, so they need processes for dealing with them. 

You can establish problem solving skills in your students by suggesting they:

  • look for things that need fixing at home and research how to do it
  • participate in project-based learning, which requires finding solutions to real-world work challenges
  • volunteer at a group that seeks to solve community, environmental or social issues
  • look for problem solving and decision making opportunities in their current workplaces
  • seek opportunities to creatively solve their challenges, such as balancing study with work, family and social activities.

Employability skills


Initiative is a valuable workplace skill because it involves seeking out work that needs to be done, rather than waiting to be told what to do. It also covers looking for better ways to do current work tasks.  

Some ways to increase your students’ initiative skills include advising them to:

  • take the lead on group projects or assignments
  • practice writing a cover letter and job applications
  • approach potential employers about internships or work placements
  • look for ways to increase efficiencies or take on new responsibilities in their current workplaces
  • organise a family or community event.

Planning and organising

This requires considering what needs to be done, how, when, where, and by whom. These skills are vital for completing work to a satisfactory standard and meeting deadlines. You can support development of your students’ planning and organisational skills by recommending they:

  • establish and stick to a study schedule
  • plan research assignments to ensure they can meet deadlines
  • organise a group project, family or community event
  • arrange a travel/holiday itinerary.


Self-management is the ability to control your time and physical and mental energy to accomplish what you need to. It’s important in the workplace, where employers want staff to be able to do their jobs and meet deadlines without needing too much supervision.

Examples of ways to boost your student’s self-management skills include encouraging them to:

  • complete an internship or project-based work placement 
  • establish a plan to manage their project timelines and different responsibilities
  • participate in a community or volunteer organisation
  • keep their room and study space tidy and organised
  • take responsibility for their actions and the consequences.

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In a rapidly changing globalised world, the ability to learn new information and practical skills is vital. A lifelong love of learning will support students throughout their careers. Some ways to improve your students’ learning skills include recommending they:

  • participate in an experiential learning program or study skills course
  • take up a new sport or new hobby, such as learning to play a musical instrument
  • research how to perform new skills, such as changing a tyre or baking a souffle
  • take advantage of different learning opportunities, such as peer mentoring or study groups
  • remain open to new information, new ideas and different practices.


Technology skills probably sound like a given these days, but employers rate them highly. In addition to being able to compose a social post or email, valuable skills include the ability to use software programs and hardware such as an EFTPOS machine or video camera.

Your students could improve their technology skills by:

  • completing an online course in a technology they’re not familiar with
  • undertaking a work placement or internship that involves learning to use field-specific tech applications
  • researching innovative solutions that involved designing creative technology
  • asking their workplace or community group to train them to use their technologies
  • researching what technology is used in their field and what training is involved.

Employability skills

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (also sometimes known as emotional quotient or EQ) involves the ability to identify, understand and use emotions in healthy ways, in order to remain calm under pressure, communicate effectively, and develop good relationships. 

Ways to help students develop better emotional intelligence skills include encouraging them to:

  • notice their feelings in different circumstances and how they influence actions
  • practise emotional control strategies, such as deep breathing 
  • build relationships with others who think differently to them
  • look for non-verbal cues in others, such as body language and voice tone.

Conflict resolution

In a workplace where people have a range of different backgrounds, ideas and ways of working, some form of conflict is inevitable. Employers value team members who can resolve disagreements in a positive way – whether their own or between other people.

Your students could develop conflict resolution skills by:

  • accepting conflict is part of life and being prepared to manage it
  • actively listening to the other person and trying to understand their viewpoint
  • separating the person from the problem they’re dealing with
  • maintaining a professional attitude.

Supporting University Students to Develop Employability Skills

As evident, there are numerous ways educators can cultivate employability skills in their students. This typically does not involve more hours of academic learning. Rather, employability skills are developed through tasks that put academic knowledge into practice. For example, students can build employability skills by participating in authentic work projects at a business, government, or community organisation. 

Developing Employability Skills with Experiential Learning 

Increasingly, students need to complete university as work-ready graduates. Educators must therefore equip students with not only job specific technical or professional knowledge, but the employability skills they need to get and maintain work.

Experiential learning projects facilitate this outcome and have many benefits for everyone involved. For universities and other educational institutions, the ability to offer high-quality experiential learning projects is a powerful point of difference that can help you attract and retain students and establish mutually beneficial partnerships with industry, government and community partners.

For your students, evidence supports utilising experiential learning (also known as work-integrated learning) to bolster employability skills. 

How Practera Can Help Your University Foster Employability Skills in Students

Practera works with educational institutions to provide high-quality experiential learning programs, at scale and with reduced delivery costs.

Our fully supported and quality assured programs and project-based learning managed services easily connect university students with genuine workplace experiences across a range of categories, such as internships (including virtual internships), team projects, work simulations and more. These are gathered from thousands of employers globally, including corporations, community organisations and government departments.

Crucially, Practera can deliver all our experiential learning programs virtually. Our pioneering and user-friendly platform has been developed to maximise learning quality and the student experience for both onsite and online delivery.

For educators, Practera’s research-backed feedback, assessment and performance tracking devices support top-quality remote program delivery, facilitating continued provision of experiential learning irrespective of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Students, Gain Experience & Skills Employers Are Recruiting For Today!

Enrol for free in Practera’s government-backed live programs to build your employability skills  

Inbuilt tools to support a seamless experience and enhanced learning outcomes include:

Provision of timely, quality feedback

As one of Practera’s top strengths, our platform facilitates provision of individualised feedback from industry and educators. This is delivered consistently and at key times to drive reflection, deep learning, and enhanced student performance. Our Team360 assessments also enable educators to embed a peer feedback loop into learning activities.

Intrinsic assessment tools

Practera offers multiple options for assessing and progressing student learning. You can easily set
up various assessment types, including those which allow for a feedback loop and straightforward question-and-answer options. Grading student work is simplified with our user-friendly rubrics. 

Innovative technology

Practera’s real-time analytics and data dashboards enable you to rapidly identify any issues before they escalate, conduct detailed performance analyses, and capture end of program reports. Our world-first AI-assistant, known as ELSA, provides 24/7 monitoring to provide real-time recommendations based on research-backed learning science, saving you time and helping you deliver optimum learning outcomes.

Students who have participated in Practera’s programs frequently report the experience they gained was invaluable, helping them develop the necessary skills to secure employment. 

Practera advances to the semifinals of the $5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition

Practera is one of 8 teams from 4 countries who have advanced to the semifinalist round of the $5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition, a three-year competition reimagining the future of work and transforming how we train and educate workers.

As a semifinalist, Practera will now enter the large-scale field testing stage of the competition, in which each team will need to demonstrate their proposed solutions, will rapidly place trained workers in 60 days or less, and then support the workers to ensure job retention of at least 60 days. 

At Practera, we are inspired by XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling’s vision of a future where all workers have access to gainful and meaningful employment. A concept that so closely aligns with our mission, values and work to date.

Huge congratulations to our U.S. team, Prue CliffordWes SonnenreichMaxwell Chappuis and to all the other semifinalist teams on their achievement of making it to the next round. We’re proud to be working alongside some fantastic innovators as part of the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling competition, reimagining the future of work and transforming how we train and educate workers. 

We’re super excited and are looking forward to the semifinal competition!

Find out more about our experiential learning technology platform and programs here.


The Benefits of Work Integrated Learning for Educators and Employers

Work Integrated Learning provides opportunities for students to complete real-world work experiences that support both academic outcomes and boost their employment prospects. Participation in Work Integrated Learning benefits students, educators and employers by building networks and enhancing outcomes for all those involved.

What Is Work Integrated Learning and Why Is It Becoming So Popular?

Work Integrated Learning (often known simply as WIL) powers learning by doing. It grants students an opportunity to participate in a real-world experience within their chosen field which can directly contribute to their degree or course of study. WIL activities integrate academic learning with practical workplace application, giving students the chance to both apply their discipline-specific knowledge and solve real issues they will encounter in their field.

Work Integrated Learning creates opportunities for impactful and effective education by extending learning beyond the walls of a lecture theatre or seminar room. WIL can take several forms, including work-based projects, internships, clinical placements, work simulations and mentoring programs.

WIL is becoming increasingly popular as evidence for its benefits continues to grow. Subsequently, universities and educational providers are becoming increasingly required to ensure that students are workforce ready upon graduation.

Companies today are seeking graduates who not only have the knowledge needed to do their jobs, but key 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, creativity, and the ability to collaborate, manage diversity and ambiguity. These are not skills that can be easily taught in a classroom, they can only be acquired through authentic learning experiences.

Practera’s experiential learning platform effortlessly links students with real-world work experiences, at scale. We deliver work-integrated learning across a wide range of categories, including internships, team projects, mentoring, work simulations and more. Our award-winning, impactful and engaging programs are intentionally designed for successful online delivery. Our programs use integrated assessment, feedback, and performance tracking which are backed by research and intended to facilitate top-quality online program delivery. This enables the ongoing delivery of industry-leading experiential learning programs, regardless of restrictions related to COVID-19.

Whether you’re providing programs on-site or online, our user-friendly, innovative platform fosters quality learning and helps students gain real-world employability skills that prepare them for their careers and future work.

Learn more about the benefits of WIL and experiential learning in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

How Does WIL Benefit Students?

For many students, higher education involves gaining the necessary skills to be ready for future work placements. However, the jobs available today require more than just theoretical or discipline-specific knowledge. Graduates need a diverse skill set, ready to apply their knowledge to any new context. This type of experiential program provides effective learning opportunities in which students are able to apply their theoretical knowledge in a real,  professional work situation and also develop vital skills like leadership and collaboration. By participating in WIL programs, students can boost their employment prospects, be introduced to a network of peers and helpful industry contacts, and better support their transition from study to career.

Research has indicated that well-planned and managed WIL experiences help students to:

  • Enhance their academic knowledge and develop transferable skills,
  • Participate in teamwork, problem-solving, and self-management,
  • Learn to communicate effectively with colleagues across diverse roles,
  • Develop an understanding of ethical practice,
  • Build a professional identity, and
  • Increase their digital literacy skills.

Further benefits include supporting students to develop an awareness of workplace culture, enhancing their understanding of the global environment and industry issues, and developing a greater awareness of the job market. By participating in WIL experiences,  students also begin to define their thinking about future career choices and aspirations.

What Students Say About Their Learning Experiences Through Practera 

Students who participated in Practera’s WIL programs often said that the experience they gained through the program is valuable and helps develop in-demand skills they need to secure a job in the workforce, especially in unprecedented environments and challenges.

One student in the UNSW Business Accelerator program 2020 said “that the program is a good first step into consulting. Post-pandemic virtual work and study would be a reality and this experience will be a great experience for coordination and collaboration.”

Practera’s WIL program allows students from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines to come together and produce a top-notch report.

A student from UTS Business Accelerator program in 2020 said “The program allows me to collaborate with students from different faculties. It is a rare and precious experience being able to connect with people studying in completely different aspects. Also, this experience provides a good insight  into working in a business consulting team”

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

What Are the Benefits of WIL to Educators?

The benefits of Work Integrated Learning also extend to educators. Research has shown that when universities take a highly intentional approach to WIL, including quality educational programs and the formation of strong reciprocal industry partnerships, it can be a powerful tool for realising university goals and enhancing professional education.

For higher education providers, being able to offer high quality WIL programs can differentiate your institution from your competitors and help you attract and retain students. It aids graduate employability, helps to deliver a positive return on investment and cements an institution’s reputation as a desirable education provider. WIL has the additional ability to boost your professional networks and reputation through the building of relationships with government, community and industry partners.

For educators, incorporating WIL into your suite of pedagogical strategies can lead to enhanced student engagement and boost your job satisfaction.

At Practera, we partner with higher education providers throughout Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe. We can assist your university to provide exceptional WIL experiences aligned to your curriculum that concurrently increase scale and reduce delivery costs.

Students, Gain Experience & Skills Employers Are Recruiting For Today!

Enrol for free in Practera’s government-backed live programs to build your employability skills  

What Educators Say About Enhancing Their Curriculum with Practera’s Digital Industry Placements? 

Brigette McKenna, UNSW Program Manager Career Accelerator, (AGSM & UNSW Business School) and her team are long standing partners of Practera. However, when the pandemic proves to be a challenge in delivering a quality authentic industry experience at a large scale, Practera has been a key tool in UNSW’s armoury in these unprecedented times.

“COVID-19 has obviously been an enormous challenge to navigate for everyone, in all walks of life. While we did a fantastic job adapting our programs in a short time span, we know the impacts and budget cuts.”

“The Practera nano projects have proven to be a key tool in our armoury. They have held up very well under new variables of stress and transnational delivery.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the need for strong digital literacy and communication skills in everyone and it reinforced our theory that undertaking projects truly prepares our students for the workforce in the future.”

Noami Hewston, King’s Internship Adviser at King’s College London and her team wanted to look for an effective virtual work-integrated learning opportunity that would grow their students’ employability skills, provide workplace insights and engage students with the industry.

“So wonderful to see how the King’s Insights Programme and our partnership with Practera is helping to empower students with real work expertise and enabling industry clients to benefit from the brilliant minds of our students. Running the programme on Practera has been really easy and impactful for students & clients alike.”

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

How Does a Business Benefit From Participating in A WIL program?

Employers can also reap significant benefits from participating in a WILL program, as it gives them the opportunity to save money on strategic market research, while simultaneously mentoring students in preparing for the future of work.

For employers, other benefits for participating  in a WIL experiences include:

  • Uncover the latest insights from student teams from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
  • Build mutually beneficial networks with industry, government, community partners and training organisations
  • Give back to the student team by sharing professional  experience and advice

For employers, partnering with Practera can help to develop your team’s skill sets, capability and enhance workplace culture, while working with Practera gives you access to student project teams, provides opportunities to meet and attract key graduate talent and establishes helpful university and community networks.

What Employers Say About the Digital Industry Program and the related work integrated learning benefits

Doreen Brown, the CEO of Let’s Get Visible is in the business of creating custom SEO strategies. Majority of her time, she is looking after her clients and crafting their messaging. One of the pressing challenges for her business is setting aside time to promote her business as a whole.  “I am a consultant and a lot of my day is spent looking after the clients and their businesses. When it comes to my own business, it can be tough as I focus my time and efforts looking after other people and making sure they are carrying out my tasks for them.”

When she  participated  in the USYD Global Scope program, it  allowed her  student team to look at the business critically as a whole.

“It was a pretty good thing to have external eyes looking at your business and getting your external perspective – sometimes you are too close to the business that you don’t have a critical POV and you are thinking that everything is fine but from the outside looking in, it could give you that constructive feedback!”

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)


Clipper Ship, City of Adelaide is a not for profit organisation that dedicates in the preservation of running Australia’s oldest Clipper ship as a tourist attraction. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director, Peter Alexander faced a revenue, customer loss, which was definitely a challenge for his organisation. Not until he applied for where they put together a comprehensive report that gives him a fresh perspective.

“One recommendation was changing the demographic of our attraction from retirees/seniors and aim our attraction towards young people. An important insight that the student identified is tapping into university student volunteer databases and marketing the Clipper Ship attraction in student social meetings.”

“Practera programs are a great way to open our eyes to other options and opportunities. Working with students to  examine our operations in a different light, it allows us to pick up on issues that we didn’t pick up. I am always amazed about how students can produce some top quality.”

Want to Offer WIL? Speak To Practera

A Work Integrated Learning experience requires much more than simply providing students with a placement at a workplace. For WIL to be most effective for students, educators and employers, it needs to fulfil several criteria including flexibility, accessibility and intentional support. Research has indicated that a quality WIL experience should be flexible enough to meet the quickly changing needs of contemporary workplaces and schedules. They should ideally occur in both online and offline environments, allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous connection.

A WIL experience should be accessible to all students, not just to those students who are either academically gifted or socially advantaged. In addition, WIL should be tailored to students’ goals and theory requirements, providing a deeper, more meaningful experience

For education institutions such as universities, WIL needs to intentionally foster learning outcomes, enhance their educational mission and increase their overall capability and employability. It should develop and facilitate reciprocal partnerships with industry, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Quality WIL is powered by real, quality relationships between educational providers and industry. In order to maintain these relationships, WIL needs to be well-organised, supervised and resourced.

Achieving impactful WIL programs might sound like a lot to achieve if you don’t have the right support in place. However, with Practera’s help, implementing a successful experiential learning program is much more simple to accomplish. Our world’s  leading experiential learning platform, managed services and talented team allow educators to easily partner with industry and government to offer students high-quality Work Integrated Learning programs. By connecting with our team, we can help find a program best suited to your needs and connect students with global organisations. Expect continuous support with a dedicated program manager and make the most out of Work Integrated Learning with our team and platform.

Learn more about the benefits of WIL and experiential learning in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

Practera partners with the London School of Economics and Political Science to Scale Work-Based Learning Opportunities

LSE & Practera

22 July 2021 — LSE Careers has partnered with experiential learning provider Practera to deliver digital industry project learning programmes for their students on the Practera platform. Teams of students are working on virtual consultancy projects for real industry clients ranging from charities and sustainability initiatives to creative industries and marketing. 

Director, LSE Careers, Lizzie Darlington said, “Work-based learning is a key area of our strategy at LSE Careers; it’s vital that students have real-world opportunities to develop meaningful professional skills during their time at LSE and beyond. These 3-week industry projects will give students a huge step forward in their careers as they engage with their industry clients and mentors on real business challenges, and enable students to experience a broader diversity of career options during their course of study. It’s fantastic to team up with Practera who have a global industry network and such high professional standards in delivering engaging work-based learning at scale.”

Jane Hallett, Practera’s UK lead, said, “We’re proud to be partnering with a globally recognised institution like LSE, and delighted to be supporting their vision to enhance work-based learning opportunities for students, graduates, staff and employers. We look forward to seeing the results and skill growth for students in the Virtual Summer Consultancy Projects and beyond.”


LSE & Practera Contact Details



What Is the Experiential Learning Theory of David Kolb?

Experiential learning theory is about learning by doing. Developed by psychologist David Kolb, the theory describes the learning process whereby knowledge is created through experience. Kolb’s theory explains that concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation form a four-stage process (or cycle) transformed into effective learning. Applying Kolb’s learning theory has benefits for students, educators and employers. 


  1. Who is David Kolb
  2. David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory
  3. Benefits of Experiential Learning
  4. Practera’s Experiential Leaning Platform

Become Involved In Experiential Learning

Before starting an experiential learning program, it’s wise to figure out how much work is involved. For example, educational researchers Lee Andresen, David Boud, and Ruth Cohen have created a criteria that makes a project to be truly experiential. These include a personally meaningful goal to the student, personal student engagement, and involvement of the whole person in the learning experience (including their senses, emotions, and personality).

Moreover, projects need to recognise relevant prior learning and provide opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences throughout. They add that teachers must establish a sense of respect, trust, openness, and concern for student wellbeing.

Who Is David Kolb?

The model was published in 1984 by David Kolb, an American psychologist, professor and education theorist. Kolb was born in 1939 and earned his undergraduate degree from Knox College in 1961. He then earned a PhD in social psychology from Harvard University.

Kolb’s experiential learning theory was influenced by the work of other education theorists, including Jean Piaget, John Dewey, and Kurt Lewin. Kolb has written numerous books, book chapters, and journal articles. He has been bestowed four honorary degrees and won several awards.

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What Is the Experiential Learning Theory Kolb Developed?

As the name says, experiential learning involves the transformation of experience into effective learning. Kolb’s experiential learning theory stresses how our experiences, including our thoughts, emotions and environment, impact the learning process.

Kolb’s theory defines experiential learning as a four-stage process: 

  1. Concrete learning occurs when a learner has a new experience or interprets a previous experience in a new way. For example, a nursing student has to learn a new procedure as part of their clinical education.
  2. Reflective observation – the learner reflects on the new experience to understand what it means. In our example, the nursing student might think about how they could have done the procedure better.
  3. Abstract conceptualisation – the learner adapts their thinking or constructs new ideas based on experience and reflection. For example, the nursing student realises they need to have all their materials ready before starting the procedure.
  4. Active experimentation – the learner applies their new ideas to real-world situations to test whether they work and see if any changes need to be made. This process can happen quickly or over an extended time. Our nursing student might note how smoothly things go consistently when they have everything ready for a procedure in advance.

Learning practical real-world skills withExperiential Learning Theory

The Importance of Preferences in David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

The four stages of Kolb’s model are portrayed as an experiential learning cycle. Learners can enter the cycle at any time. For example, imagine a group of students are learning to use computer-aided design (CAD) software. One student might begin the learning process by observing others using it. Another learner might start by reading about the program. Still, another learner might immediately jump in and have a go at using it.

Kolb explains learners have natural preferences for how they enter the experiential learning cycle. “Because of our hereditary equipment, our particular past life experiences, and the demands of our environment, we develop a preferred way of choosing,” he wrote.

Kolb’s learning styles model

These preferences are the basis of Kolb’s learning styles model, which divides learners into four types based on their dominant learning style.

Kolb’s learning styles are:

  • Diverging – In this learning style, learners focus on concrete experience and reflective observation. They prefer to watch and reflect on what they’ve observed before jumping in. 
  • Assimilating – This learning style incorporates learners who favour abstract conceptualisation and reflective observation. They like using analytical models to explore and prefer concepts and abstract ideas.
  • Converging – Learners using this learning style focus on abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. They like to solve problems and enjoy applying learning to practical issues.
  • Accommodating – Learners using this learning style favour concrete experience and active experimentation. They relish a challenge and using intuition to solve problems. 

How Can Experiential Learning Benefits Students?

Experiential learning has many benefits for students, including:

  • The chance to immediately apply the learning process to real-world experiences, which supports knowledge retention
  • Improved motivation, as students are more excited about learning in real-world situations
  • Promotion of learning through reflection, which deepens and strengthens the learning  experience
  • The chances to make good use of their preferred style of learning
  • Enhanced teamwork because experiential learning often involves working as part of a team
  • The opportunity to prepare for future work through genuine, meaningful real-world practice
  • The chances to meet colleagues and potential employers.

Experiential Learning Theory benefits students, educators and employers.

How Can Experiential Learning Benefit Employers and Educators?

For educators, utilising experiential learning can:

  • Allow you to develop highly engaging and appropriate learning opportunities for students, supporting your reputation as an educator of choice for preparing students for the real-world workforce
  • Help you design learning and reflection activities that allow students to learn in ways that suit their preferred learning styles
  • Ensure your students develop skills that enhance employability and optimise their chances of future success.

For employers, experiential learning gives you access to teams of highly motivated students who are equipped with the latest knowledge. It provides a chance to upskill your current workers, identify and attract leading graduate talent, and build relationships with key stakeholders in your industry.

How Practera can help

This might seem like a lot to organise, and it is if you’re doing it alone. But with support from Practera, starting an experiential learning program is probably much easier than you think. Our fully supported experiential learning programs help students develop practical employability skills by connecting them to real-world activities with industry partners.

Practera can offer programs across a huge range of experiential learning categories, including team projects, internships, boot camps, mentoring, work simulations and more. Importantly, our experiential learning programs can be scaffolded to foster student competency before undertaking a full placement or internship. Education institutions taking this approach enable more students to experience success in the long term.

Crucially, Practera’s highly engaging experiential learning programs have all been designed for online delivery. Whether you’re providing programs onsite or online, our user-friendly, innovative platform incorporates features that maximise the student experience and quality of learning. 

Practera’s integrated assessment, feedback, and performance tracking devices are all designed to foster premium-quality online experiential program delivery. For example, inbuilt intelligence discerns optimal moments for reflection and encourages students to pause and think deeply, encouraging learning and retention.

During COVID-19, Practera even committed $1 million in funding to support 26 experiential learning projects across 12 universities, which benefited more than 100,000 learners. This helped universities continue to provide quality learning experiences when education was being done completely online.

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Project Based Learning: Benefits and Techniques of PBL

Project-based learning (PBL) enables students to learn deeply and develop core employability skills through participating in real work projects and experiences. It has benefits for students, education institutions and industry. With Practera’s support, organising project-based learning is cost-effective and simple.

What is project-based learning?

Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching method that drives student learning by engaging them in real-world, meaningful projects. It’s a style of inquiry-based and student-centred learning. In PBL, students work in groups over a set period on a project designed to solve a genuine problem or answer a challenging question. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a product or presentation for a public audience.

Project based learning activities allow students to develop deep content knowledge. Importantly, PBL also supports development of 21 st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication. PBL education is used across various learning environments, including high schools and universities.

It’s important to distinguish a PBL project from a traditional school or college project. Educators sometimes use light projects to supplement other learning activities. This can be likened to icing on a cake. In contrast, PBL is like the cake itself – it forms the substance of unit learning and skill development.

Want to reduce student costs by 90%? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are doing it.

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Why use project based learning?

The simple answer is that contemporary work is often project-based work. Forces including globalisation, automation and growth of the gig economy mean predictable and repetitive jobs are increasingly uncommon.

Instead, many current students’ careers will involve working on a series of projects. It therefore makes sense for them to have experience with project-based work, along with the knowledge and skills required to be a successful project team member.

What are the benefits of project based learning?

Project based learning also has other advantages for students. These include:

  • Deeper engagement and interaction with learning content
  • Encouragement of higher order thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Development of peer and professional networks
  • Engagement with potential employers and career mentors
  • Fostering of 21 st century skills like collaboration and communication
  • Enhanced autonomy and agency in learning
  • A sense of mastery and self-efficacy
  • Gaining valuable career insights.

Benefits for universities and industry

Universities and other educational institutions can also benefit from offering project-based learning that connects students with real-world projects and clients. The capacity to offer students high- quality PBL projects creates a differentiation point that can help you attract and retain students, improve their employability and satisfaction, and foster important partnerships with community, government and industry partners.

For educators, the PBL model can expand their repertoire of pedagogical strategies and lead to greater job satisfaction.

For industry, a PBL approach gives you access to teams of talented students eager to learn and apply their up-to-date academic knowledge. It creates opportunities to upskill staff in coaching and mentoring, and to meet potential job candidates.

project based learning

Establishing a program

If implementing a PBL program sounds like a great idea, it’s important to understand how to do it well before you get started. Research by the Buck Institute for Education has shown that a successful PBL unit must include some essential design elements for deeper learning, higher engagement and better-quality work to occur.
They are:

  • A challenging problem or question – the project must involve a meaningful, real-world problem that needs solving or question that needs answering, at an appropriately challenging level.
  • Sustained inquiry – PBL projects need to give students the chance to engage in an extended, thorough process of questioning, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Realism – the project must involve a real-life situation or task, or be related to the students’ personal concerns, life issues and interests.
  • Student voice and choice – students need to be included in making decisions about the project, such as what they will create and how, and be allowed to communicate their ideas in their own voices.
  • A public product for a real audience – the project needs to result in a piece of work that is shared with or presented to an audience beyond the classroom, such as industry clients or the public.
  • Reflection – educators and students reflect on their learning, the quality of work produced, any challenges that arose, and the success of strategies used to overcome them.
  • Feedback and revision – through reflection and critique, students should give, receive, and apply feedback (including formative and summative assessment) to enhance their processes and products.

When effectively designed, implemented and scaffolded, PBL can have a huge impact on the quality and success of your teaching practices.

How Practera can help

This might all sound quite complex, and it is if you’re trying to set everything up yourself. But with Practera’s help and resources, implementing project-based learning is simple.

Our dedicated team can help with our project-based learning managed services which help find you the most suitable program for your students and connect them with industry leaders. By connecting with our team, we offer continuous support in our programs with a dedicated program manager to ensure your students get the most out of their learning experience.

Our fully supported and quality assured programs are designed to easily connect university students with genuine industry experiences, internships and projects.

These are curated from thousands of global employers, including government departments, corporates and community organisations. Our expansive library of cost-effective project types facilitates projects ranging from two-week micro-internships to custom PBL programs to suit your requirements—all digitally enabled and scalable to thousands of learners.

Importantly, Practera can deliver these PBL programs virtually. Our innovative and user-friendly platform is designed to optimise learning quality and the student experience, regardless of whether programs are used onsite or remotely.

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Monitoring progress and outcomes

Feedback about progress and outcomes is crucial for successful PBL, and you’ll want to ensure your PBL programs are achieving the desired results. Practera has you covered with our range of feedback, assessment and performance tracking tools.

Quality feedback to enhance learning outcomes

Quality feedback is one of Practera’s core strengths. Our platform allows students to receive individualised feedback from industry, peers and educators at exactly the right time to drive critical reflection, deep learning, and better performance. Integrated feedback support tools enhance the quality, consistency and timeliness of feedback—the key ingredient of successful learning! Our Team360 assessments also allow you to embed a peer feedback loop into your learning programs.

Easily assess educational outcomes

Practera gives you multiple options for assessing and progressing student learning. You can easily set up different types of assessments, commonly moderated assessments which allow for a feedback loop, along with question-and-answer options such as multiple choice and checkboxes.

For grading student work, Practera offers user-friendly rubrics that help you efficiently provide consistent and impartial grading. You can easily track participant engagement, progress and deliverables, pinpoint any issues with individual students or teams, and support them throughout their PBL experience.

Advanced technology enhances user experience

You can also monitor and quality assure your programs using Practera’s real-time analytics and data dashboards. At a glance, you can quickly identify any issues before they become bigger problems, or dig deeper for more detailed analysis. You can also capture end of program reports.

We even have a world-first AI-assistant, known as ELSA, designed specifically for experiential learning. ELSA provides 24/7 monitoring to provide real-time recommendations based on research- backed learning science, saving you time and helping deliver optimal student learning outcomes.

With COVID-19 meaning some PBL must take place virtually, Practera’s inbuilt feedback, assessment and performance tracking devices allow educational institutions to still deliver PBL activities without sacrificing learning quality.

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Delivering Student Project-learning at Scale & Remotely- Watch The Webinar

Webinar – Delivering Student Project-learning at Scale

Missed our live webinar? Click the link below and watch our webinar video. To equip students with the skills and capabilities they need for the future of work, educators seek to deliver a range of experiential learning programs in and around the curriculum. However, experiential learning with high proportions of in-person engagement can be complex and costly to deliver at scale.

Online models including team-based industry projects potentially offer substantial benefits including lower cost, broader geographic reach and enhanced scalability – but only if quality can be maintained.

The University of New South Wales Business School partnered with edtech startup Practera to design a new class of digital online ‘nano’ projects. These projects have subsequently scaled up and been deployed with students from >60 other institutions in Australia and around the world, including King’s College London.

In this webinar, presenters and panellists will:

  • Share experience with designing & deploying digital industry projects & virtual internships to thousands of students
  • Share Practera’s recently released research into Quality in Online Project Learning, analysing performance and critical success factors across a sample of 7905 participants from 22 universities, across 124 cohorts and 4 types of programs supported by the Practera platform
  • Participate in the live panel discussion, facilitated by host Professor Laura-Anne Bull, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Students, James Cook University, Director Student Experience Strathclyde

Presenters & panellists include:

  • Brigitte McKenna, Manager Career Accelerator UNSW Business School, Sydney
  • Naomi Hewston, Internships Adviser, King’s College London 
  • Beau Leese, CEO & co-founder of Practera 
  • Professor Laura-Anne Bull (Facilitator), former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Students, James Cook University, & Director Student Experience, Strathclyde.

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The Complete Guide To Work Integrated Learning

What is Work Integrated Learning (WIL)?

The term ‘work integrated learning’ (WIL) describes purposeful and supervised learning programs and activities that connect university students with real-world work experiences with an industry or community partner in their field of study. WIL is all about integrating what you study in the classroom with its workplace application.

WIL opportunities and activities are linked with one or more study courses, formally assessed, and applied as a credit towards your study program.

WIL allows students to engage in real-world work experiences that support their preparedness for employment. The benefits include the opportunity to apply knowledge in practice, build professional networks, and enhance employability. For employers, it creates opportunities for staff training, meeting potential work candidates, and getting fresh input on projects.

Types of WIL

Work placements

Work placements (also sometimes called clinical placements, internships, or practicums) allow students to engage in authentic, supervised work tasks during time spent within an organisation. For example, a physiotherapy student might complete a placement within a teaching hospital. They enable students to apply academic knowledge and develop professional competencies. 

Industry projects

These involve university students working, either individually or as a group, to deliver on a project brief for a community or industry partner. For example, a group of information technology students might work on an IT company’s brief to research and develop a client’s network solution. Students get to apply theoretical knowledge to authentic scenarios, plus develop skills such as client communication, project management, and collaborative working

Learn more about the benefits of WIL and experiential learning in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

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Work simulations

In situations where real-world work experience may not be possible or carry too much risk, work simulations enable students to apply their academic learning in an environment designed to approximate the real one as closely as possible. These activities usually involve using industry-specific activities, technology or equipment in a way that simulates the work environment’s complexities. Examples include university law students practising in moot courts and trainee pilots using flight simulators.


This approach allows a student or group of students to build skills by partnering with an industry or community mentor. For example, a communications student might enter a mentoring relationship with a working journalist. Students can benefit from their mentor’s workplace experience, practical knowledge, and feedback about their performance. 

The benefits of work-integrated learning – for students

Work-integrated learning has a plethora of benefits for students. Just some of them include:

  • The opportunity to apply your hard-won academic learning to real-world work scenarios
  • Building relationships with potential employers and industry colleagues
  • Enhancing your resume with evidence of authentic work experience
  • The chance to explore your chosen field and clarify your direction
  • Developing valued workplace skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, project management and professional communication
  • The opportunity to better understand a workplace’s culture
  • A portfolio of work to show potential employers
  • A deepened understanding of your future career and its real-world requirements.

What are the benefits of work-integrated learning to the employer?

Students aren’t the only people to benefit from WIL. For employers, advantages include:

  • The opportunity to upskill employees 
  • Building networks with industry and community partners and training organisations
  • The chance to meet, identify and attract leading graduate talent
  • Engaging teams of eager, knowledgeable students for work projects 
  • Giving back to your industry or profession.

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

How to get involved in work-integrated learning

Getting started with WIL might seem daunting, but Practera makes the process simple and streamlined. Our experiential learning platform seamlessly connects students with authentic, real-world work experiences, at scale.

For higher education providers, the ability to offer high-quality WIL is a powerful differentiator. It can help your institution attract and retain students, enhance their employability, and build strong relationships with industry and community partners.

Practera partner with higher education institutions in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia to help them deliver exceptional WIL experiences that simultaneously reduce delivery costs and increase scale. 


Practera helps employers develop the skills and capabilities of their teams while enhancing workflows and engaging with the upcoming generation of university candidates. 

Our platform can connect your company with students eager to gain experience through real-world industry projects, internships and experiences. 


For government agencies, Practera can partner with you to build industry and education system collaborations. 

Our programs support the upskilling and reskilling of workers and helps you identify and attract top graduate talent. 

Work Integrated Learning via remote learning

Organising work integrated learning (WIL) projects has become more difficult in a socially distanced world by necessitating a shift to virtual delivery. The Practera platform addresses this issue by ensuring virtual WIL can still take place with a high level of quality. With our managed services, we can help connect your students with industry leaders today, with continuous support throughout their programs with a dedicated program manager.

A vital component of successful WIL opportunities involves providing students with the chance to reflect on their learning experiences. Practera’s experiential learning programs have inbuilt feedback loops designed by industry, peers and educators and backed by research. These are delivered at key moments to help drive critical reflection and deeper learning.

This key ingredient helps university students gain employability skills such as creativity and resilience, and ensures their virtual learning makes them ready for real-life careers.

Learn more about the benefits of WIL and experiential learning in our ‘Effective Experiential Learning’ whitepaper

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Practera advances to the next round of the $5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition.

$5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition

Practera is proud to be one of 10 teams globally advancing to the qualified teams round of the $5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Competition, sponsored by nonprofit venture philanthropy organization New Profit in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF).

Working with future-focused workforce boards across the US, Practera will develop and demonstrate breakthrough experiential learning solutions to more rapidly train and place displaced & vulnerable American workers into higher-wage, higher-skill jobs. Qualified Teams were selected by an independent panel of experts from among 118 teams from 20 countries.

At Practera, we are inspired by XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling’s vision of a future in which all workers have access to gainful and meaningful employment. A vision that so closely aligns with our mission, values, and work to date.

XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling incentivizes teams to develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of rapid training and reskilling solutions for individuals most vulnerable to employment loss in the United States. The solutions developed in this competition will reduce training time by at least 50% for occupations with a living wage and will be provided at no cost to the individual.

Congratulations to all teams on their achievement – we’re proud to be working alongside some amazing innovators as part of the Future of Work Grand Challenge.

We’re super excited and are looking forward to the competition!

Find out more about our experiential learning technology platform and programs.

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