Work-integrated learning (WIL)
Work-integrated learning (WIL) describes an educational activity that combines and integrates learning and its workplace application, regardless of whether this integration occurs in industry or in the University and whether the activity is real or simulated.
Students apply recently acquired knowledge, learn new professional skills and develop generic attributes such as interpersonal skills in work and organisational settings.
RMIT teachers and academics involved in WIL create ties with practitioners and organisations with opportunities to extend to research and other new relationships.
Designing, developing and delivering WIL poses challenges beyond basic classroom and online teaching and learning. It relies on commitment and advocacy as well as willingness to take risks. WIL requires strong support from program coordinators and Heads of School.
Selecting a WIL model
While there are many different forms of WIL, the RMIT policy defines the specific features of WIL that will deliver a strategic advantage to RMIT students and graduates.
Many programs already have a rich tradition in placement or similar WIL schemes (often reflecting professional association requirements). For example:
- Education, social science, clinical and other health professions all have extensive practicum, placement or clinical practice schemes.
- Industry- or community-based projects including design, engineering, business.
- Simulated professional practices, such as roleplays in Juris Doctor.
Often there are multiple WIL forms in a program; for example, business programs can include both placements and industry-based projects.
The nature of the industry and community can have a significant bearing on the nature of WIL adopted in RMIT programs. So, for example, the scale and nature of some design areas makes placement schemes difficult, and points to industry and community based projects or simulated projects.
Selecting the form of WIL for your program and course consistent with the WIL Policy can begin by reviewing current forms of WIL in the program and like disciplines. In these cases you may well have the opportunity to learn from existing practices and increase your contacts in the area.
Another approach to selecting a WIL model is to draw on your own knowledge of professional and vocational contexts. Alternatively use existing networks in industry or community to clarify possibilities.
If you are new to WIL or if you are facing a particular issue with it (for example student insurance or agreements with employers), you have help around you at RMIT.
There are staff experienced in implementing WIL in every School across RMIT. There are also staff centrally in the Colleges (Deans Academic Development and their colleagues) and in University services, who can provide assistance on specific matters.
To find staff locally who can help you take the first steps, talk about your needs with program or discipline coordinators, School learning and teaching directors (or equivalent).
Discuss your ideas with your College Dean Academic Development or their staff. For specific issues refer to the list of University contacts on WILNET (see Resources)
- Creative media staff and students addresses ethical issues associated with WIL.
- An initiative that can assist implement virtual situated learning environments for WIL
- Career Development Learning: maximising the contribution of work-integrated learning to the student experience - A large project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).
Examples of practice
WIL in fashion
Chris Clark, Programs Manager in the School of Fashion and Textiles describes her recent WIL activities.