5. Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

WIL in the World of Micro-certifications

“Micro-credentialing offers a great opportunity to help our students prove their value to potential employers.  We are excited to see how this exciting initiative can further work-integrated learning in BC.”

-          Jennie Nilsson, President of ACE-WIL, October 2020

An unofficial scan of  WIL-Micro-credential programs in BC has not produced any project in our province yet. However, at a recent Association of Cooperative Education and Work Integrated Learning townhalls, hosted by BCcampus and facilitated by ACE-WIL president, Jennie Nilsson, 77% of the attendees indicated that earning micro-credentials could be an incentive for students to participate in WIL activities, and 45% indicated that they have been in a discussion about micro-credentials related to Work Integrated Learning in the past six months. It seems the sector is ready to explore how micro-credentials could align with WIL.

Early in 2020, Anne Marie Fannon, the Director of the Professional Development Program at the University of Waterloo, did a keynote presentation on their participation in the eCampus Ontario project. Her topic "Skills, WIL, and the promise of micro-credentials" seems very appropriate as a starting point for our exploration into WIL & Micro-credentials. You can listen to her 30min presentation (from 1:21 to 1:52) here: Skills, WIL and the Promise of Micro-credentials

As we dig deeper into exploring micro-credentials in WIL, is important to consider the six challenges that were identified in the University of Waterloo WIL project:

1)      The uniqueness of each student

2)      Student self-assessment challenges

3)      The uniqueness of each WIL setting

4)      Identification of “career-readiness” benchmarks

5)      WIL supervisor as assessor

6)      Employers’ willingness to publicly endorse talents

The challenge around employers is about TRUST and ENDORSEMENT… Are employers willing to assess and endorse and make that public, and then consume one another’s endorsements? This would be an important challenge to address to secure the value of micro-credentials in WIL for all stakeholders.

Anne-Marie presented on the topic of WIL and Micro-credentialing at an ACE-WIL townhall on February 19th. You can listen to her sharing her micro-credential journey with us, and what she and her team at the University of Waterloo have learned over the past 18months about how to leverage micro-credentials to improve student experience as well as to recognize the competencies students display during their WIL experiences.

ACE-WIL townhall: Work-Integrated Learning and Micro-credentialing

You may find this infographic interesting -  the results of a survey conducted by University of Waterloo to gain insights into the employer (124) and student (1016) perspectives : Survey Results

Another example of a seemingly successful WIL Digital Badging program can be found on the other side of Canada at the University of PEI. BCcampus recently spoke to Shannon Snow to gain some insights into their program, the challenges and success. You could listen to the 25minute interview here:

UPEI Digital WIL Interview with Shannon Snow

The topic of Micro-credentials is also on the radar of CEWIL (Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada), but no official announcement or publication has been released at the publishing of this course.