On Tuesday, June 16, about 60 WIL practitioners got together for a collaborative session to discuss pivoting their WIL curriculum online during an ACE-WIL BC/Yukon townhall. The townhall was hosted by Helena Prins, BCcampus, and facilitated by Jennie Nilsson, ACE-WIL President.

Since the theme of the day was sharing ideas, challenges, questions and inspiration, most of the townhall was spent in two breakout room sessions with about five or six people taking part in each room. The session also used the annotations feature in Zoom to record hoped-for and actual takeaways.

Most were looking for new ideas and creative approaches to learning, engagement, planning and best practices. Key takeaways included learning about some tech tools and tips on how to use them (scroll down for a list and links), techniques to define the ‘rules of engagement’ with students upfront, and connecting as a community.

Some themes for the first breakout session “Challenges and Strategies” include:

  • Balancing asynchronous (not done at the same time, e.g. pre-recorded lectures) and synchronous (done at the same time, e.g. real-time meetings) and building a structure/schedule for delivering the curriculum
  • Building rapport and community, when participants/students have the video turned off during synchronous sessions, are managing other courses and screen fatigue, or are participating through asynchronous materials and can’t interact easily with others in a timely way
  • Creating an inventory of engaging activities that build community: simulations, task-based activities, making it competitive, polls, discussions, worksheets, workshops, breakout rooms, and embedding quizzes into videos
  • Leveraging technology, including challenges with mobile access, privacy, and some institutions restricting the use of certain platforms, with success strategies to increase the staff training and adding extra staff support for online sessions in order to manage any interactive features
  • Recreating ‘Drop-in’ capabilities online, moving outside of traditional office hours to allow for multiple time zones, and offering more frequent one-on-one interactions with students

The second breakout session on “Engagement” generated these ideas:

  • Offering more frequent, shorter sessions that are targeted, and recording them for students to access later on, which is valuable for those where English is not their first language
  • Ensuring there are ways to gather reactions and feedback during workshops, e.g. chat, emoji reactions, polls, shared workspaces (Google docs/slides or Padlet), and gamification
  • Offering Q&A formats that incorporating tools like Slido, which allow participants to up-vote questions
  • Accommodating students who may be more introverted in group environments, whether in person or virtual
  • Empowering students to find the answers themselves, offer ideas as to what will help them feel engaged, and suggest apps and create content for the app (e.g. Jeopardy game)
  • Allowing observational learning, where students can quietly observe an interview/interaction roleplay and discuss as a group afterwards
  • Providing discipline-specific networking opportunities and connections with alumni
  • Consider safe, face-to-face connections with small groups

Some practitioners also reported increased student engagement now that things are virtual. For many students, the desire to connect is strong, so the more that can be done during these times, the better for all. Yet, it’s important to acknowledge that moving to virtual environments takes more time and resources to pull off effectively, which may not be available.

It was great to have so many come together to collaborate! Don’t forget the next session on June 30, specifically for Mock interviews and clinics, Facilitated by Lindsay Wood and Meg Thompson, co-chairs of the ACE-WIL Professional Development Committee. Click here to learn more and register. Hope to see you there!

Some tools mentioned during the session: