eWBL – Making work-based learning work in an online environment (PART 2)

Partner: University of Ljubljana

The importance of work-based learning (WBL) for graduates’ employability has been demonstrated in several EU-funded projects. WBL is an effective pedagogical tool for promoting graduate work readiness because it is embedded in an authentic work environment. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, digital forms of WBL are emerging. One of the projects tackling this new reality is eWBL project (Making work-based learning work in an online environment!). The University of Ljubljana is the partner in the consortium coordinated by FH Münster University of Applied Sciences (Germany). The Slovenian report emphasizes that the biggest obstacle for all three actors (student, mentor and WBL faculty coordinator) is the technical preparation of the interns to access all the online systems and platforms of the company. If the interns have a poor Wi-Fi connection, this could be a problem for organisation, quality of work, results, delays, etc. In some cases, the main obstacle for interns was the lack of personal contact with the mentor or faculty supervisor. Many students also see technological aspects as the main driver – new online tools or upgrades to the tools they have been using, and students were able to quickly adapt and deal with crisis management. The pedagogical innovations related to online socialisation and enterprise team building have become more frequent. One of the solutions was to move some of the experiments that could not previously be conducted outside of the designated lab spaces with specialised equipment into the online world. In addition, many research quizzes were offered to replace the top-down approach of the faculty and work mentors, to break the routine and motivate the students. In some cases, online games related to professional activities were conducted and more online follow-up meetings, supervision and working with a group of interns facing the same challenges were introduced by the faculty mentors, which was perceived as a great advantage that would not occur in this form in WBL on site. Different disciplines have different perspectives on the future of eWBL. Many students will later be exposed to remote work as part of their regular work, although they would prefer to work in person because remote work means less cost for a company. Remote work has been shown to save time that would be spent commuting to work. The only problematic aspect of remote working is the lack of social contact (including brainstorming and in person interactions) between colleagues. Good technology and support from IT are the most important factors that make eWBL possible and ensure high quality. In addition, HE needs to take a more active role in providing adequate equipment and space for students. The focus should be on further developing the quality of online tools, taking into account the psychological and socialisation effect.

Recently, digital forms of work-based learning are emerging. Remote work saves time that would be spent commuting to work, but one of the problematic aspects of such work is a lack of social contact. For more effects of transferring WBL into digital environment, visit: https://www.ewbl-project.com/

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