I recently attended a satellite event of the Universities Australia‘s Higher Education Conference 2015 in Canberra. Whilst focused on strategic initiatives supporting learning outcomes across higher education, some interesting ideas were discussed around: work-readiness and work integrated learning; and disaggregated and unbundled learning environments.
Emeritus Professor Geoff Scott, UWS has an OLT fellowship titled “Assuring the quality of achievement standards and their valid assessment in Australian Higher Education”. He talked about work-ready plus graduates, i.e. how do we educate graduates not just for today but for tomorrow. Some of the skills he listed for work-ready plus graduates included understandings around sustainability, change savvy, creative, inventive, etc. Universities Australia has also just announced its Landmark-strategy-to-make-graduates-more–job-ready which will potentially see a significant push to increase work integrated learning approaches in Australian universities.
Emeritus Professor Christine Ewan, UOW has an OLT fellowship titled “Assuring Higher Education Standards in ‘Disaggregated’ and ‘unbundled’ learning environments”. She indicated that most disaggregation is currently informal and not for credit, however there is pressure to aggregate informal learning credits towards formal qualifications. One of the challenges of this is maintaining the integrity and coherence of a degree program with potentially a multiplicity of providers. She posited that disaggregation and unbundling of HE provision is inherent to some extent in some common learning contexts, such as work integrated learning and industry sponsored programs, individual learning plans, portfolios, studio work and open access courses such as MOOCs.
So is a future trend in higher education going to be towards the development of work-ready plus graduates through greater involvement of work integrated learning approaches?