UC re-envisions future of work-integrated learning

ELCE publishes key insights in experiential learning

Building upon its nationally ranked cooperative education program, the University of Cincinnati re-envisioned its work-integrated learning (WIL) program to prepare students to thrive in a work environment accelerated by COVID-19. Presented with unprecedented challenges, UC’s mandatory co-op program experienced the largest hiring freeze by industry partners in program history last year.

As the world of work evolved with the onset of COVID-19, the division of Experience-based Learning and Career Education recognized the need to pivot WIL efforts to reflect those changes. The traditional experience of co-op students working onsite 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week became limited. Companies embraced hybrid and remote work options instead and made many of these options accessible to co-op students.

Professor Erik Alanson

Erik Alanson, associate professor, director, computing and information technology co-op programs

In a new paper published in the International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, Erik Alanson, associate professor, director, computing and information technology co-op programs, and team discuss the new curricular offerings within UC’s Experiential Explorations Program including micro co-op, Serve-IT, virtual apprenticeship, and upskilling initiatives.

“Cooperative education and work-integrated learning continues to evolve, and UC is leading the way by embracing this shift, and ensuring our students are prepared to thrive in all work environments,” said Alanson. “Cooperative education institutions that embrace an agile philosophy will be able to better prepare students for a lifetime of work, just as UC has done.” 

Alanson served as a guest lecturer for Ph.D. students at Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand last month, where he was asked to share highlights from his recent publication. He delivered a lecture to doctoral students regarding emerging trends in the fields of WIL and cooperative education. Students will use his publications and lecture content as source material contributing to their dissertations related to the future of work.

Erik Alanson is the lead author of Re-envisioning work-integrated learning during a pandemic: Cincinnati’s experiential explorations program. Associate professors Brittany Arthur, Christopher Cooper, Michael Sharp, and assistant professors Erin Alanson and Aaron Burdette are co-authors.

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