Close to a decade ago, the Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA) launched Experience Magazine to highlight the ongoing efforts between the academy and industry to support and grow experiential learning opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and educational partners/employers. Since the publishing of that first issue in 2011, titled “The Root of the Matter: How Our Past Can Inform Our Present,” the field of Experiential and Work Integrated Learning (hereafter EL/WIL) has evolved, and this magazine has evolved along with it.
In 2017, Experience Magazine relaunched with a new brand and look, adding the terms Practice and Theory to the brand. With this change in name came with it a broadened focus to include other forms EL/WIL. Service-Learning joined the Experience Magazine family, as did other forms of EL/WIL, such as Undergraduate Research, Transdisciplinary EL/WIL, Micro Co-ops and Sprints, on-campus Co-ops, Pre-Professional EL/WIL, and many, many different forms of EL/WIL.
But why? Why change now?
By intentionally deconstructing silos that exist between organizations, between types of EL/WIL programs, between for-profit and not-for-profit thinking and doing, between the campus and the community, and between the many colleges and universities that support EL/WIL models of education, we all can do more and become better. Today, silos between teachers and learners are being actively deconstructed as are the traditional silos that exist between scholars and practitioners. Even disciplinary silos that exist in higher education are being deconstructed in very unique ways.
While the phrase “deconstructing silos” may sound a bit academic and overly complicated, the philosophy underscoring the meaning of the phrase is quite simple. We—the field of EL/WIL—are doing nothing more than blurring boundaries, and we are doing so for the common good and in sophisticated ways. We are meeting students where they are, empowering faculty and staff to be creative with their EL/WIL pedagogies, and encouraging employer partners to think outside of the box.
The field has changed because the world is changing. As a reflection of both, this magazine is changing too.
Because of the incredible work happening all over the nation and even the world, Experience Magazine has evolved along with the field. Many of CEIA’s key institutional stakeholders from over 300 colleges and universities continue to lead that evolution—s sparking innovation—by intentionally deconstructing silos and blurring boundaries, and this is happening both inside and outside of their own institutions.
For example, the University of Waterloo continues to explore improvements to their EL/WIL programs, including the development of the Future Ready Talent Framework, which identifies categories of critical skills needed for success in an unpredictable future workforce. Through the Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education (WatCACE), thousands of students have connected with employers to conduct EL/WIL research, resulting in four peer-reviewed publications and a research-based management guide titled, “Are You Ready to Manage the Workforce of the Future?” Florida State’s University Career Center is reimagining the way their students learn. By ensuring that every undergraduate – no matter their background or circumstance – has access to transformative, career-building experiences, Florida State is producing one of the most diverse and robust talent pipelines in the nation. Nova Southeastern University is in its third year of rolling out an experiential learning program for all undergraduates as well, providing students with a supported pathway to enrich their educational journey with impactful experiential learning engagement. The Experiential Education & Learning Program (ExEL) at Nova is built upon six pillars, including Undergraduate Research, Experiential Coursework, Professional Growth, Community Engagement, Travel Exploration, and Leadership Development. The University of Puget Sound is engaging 50% of their student population through Compass Puget Sound, a program that helps to provide support to their students and staff. This program helps guide their stakeholder’s career and professional development through structured reflective conversations focusing on adjusting to the position, connecting their job accomplishments to academics, establishing confidence in career exploration, and via self-assessment and recognition by professionals. The University of South Carolina’s Honors College is launching the South Carolina Honors College “GIVE” Campaign, which raised over $23,000 to go directly to Beyond the Classroom (BTC) support for students. These efforts provide funding assistance to students who are completing an unpaid internship, which includes the purchase of professional attire and assistance with transportation costs to the worksite. Providence College launched the Friar 4 Career Core, a professional development initiative which includes a series of twenty-three workshops geared to address “skill gaps” in four key competency areas—Technology & Analytics, Teamwork & Collaboration, Communication & Influence, and Professionalism & Work Ethic. Students at Providence are able to earn professional “badges” in a platform which tracks their progress and showcases their progress to employers and other stakeholders. The overall mission of the Friar Providence’s 4 Career Core is to integrate the development of professional competencies into their four-year academic experience. Last but not least, the University of Cincinnati continues to innovate via EL/WIL. Using a $12 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the UC’s Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education (ELCE) has created the NEXT Apprenticeship Program. With more than 200 faculty across eight colleges, this program is actively creating innovative student pathways, leading to well-paying and high-skill careers in informatics and computing fields.
The field is changing, evolving, and innovating. The traditional boundaries that have existed are blurring, and this is a good thing.
Even within these pages, you will find that boundaries are being blurred. For example, the podcast formerly titled The Tapioca Radio Show has formally moved to CEIA, and this new interactive website has been produced. This podcast was started at UC five years ago and was, at one time, the only podcast dedicated to EL/WIL. Since the launch of that first episode in 2015, the creators have completed 35 episodes, interviewed 50 guests, and have reached over 20,000 listeners from 10 countries. Given the growth of the podcast’s listenership, the podcast platform has combined with CEIA’s Experience Magazine to launch where you are now – the new Experience Magazine: Practice + Theory + Podcast.
The goal of ExperienceMag.org is to provide both place and space for both content creators AND content consumers in the world of EL/WIL to learn, interact, share, and collaborate. On the interactive website, you will find articles written by scholars, practitioners, students, and employer partners. You will find interviews with magazine writers and also with other thought leaders in the field. And, you will be able to interact in via our online discussion board/blog. Our goal, here, is to be a destination for EL/WIL listening, writing, reading, thinking, and doing.
Experience Magazine is intentionally blurring boundaries between the written word and the spoken word and between the content creator and the content consumer.
In the last letter from the editor, I wrote: “[I]t is not only an exciting time to be involved in the world of Experiential Learning, but it’s a crucial time to be doing that work with others — with us and with them. It is the perfect time to share best practices, learn from peers and colleagues, embolden higher education to move the needle on solving real-world problems, and to prepare our students to take-up the same charge.”
I hope that what was written then resonated with you, and I hope that what is written here today will resonate as well. Getting outside of our traditional comfort zones is important, which is where Experience Magazine : Practice + Theory + Podcast is going.
Now is the time to deconstruct silos and build bridges, and as the theme of this issue indicates, it is time to embrace that we – our colleagues, our students, and our communities – are all lifted by intentionally Blurring Boundaries for the Common Good.
Dr. Michael J. Sharp, Editor