Concordia Commits $259,000 to Online Placements for Experiential Learning

By Concordia University Modified on June 24, 2020
Tags : Academics | Campus Life | Careers

Hands-on opportunities remain valuable for students during the pandemic.

A student enjoys online experiential learning through Concordia University and its latest investment.

Concordia's Experiential Learning Office is providing $259,000 in funding to support online internship opportunities during the COVID-19 emergency. The initiative is part of the university's mission to broaden access to high-impact forms of experiential learning (EL), with the ultimate goal of seeing every student graduate with at least one EL experience, whether online or in-person.

Students are still able to get valuable experience with remote placements during the COVID-19 crisis. Making such opportunities available is especially relevant as universities attempt to facilitate physical distancing in all areas of learning.

Since the campus closures, the Experiential Learning Office has worked carefully with faculty and staff across the university, as well as industry and community partners, governments and funding agencies, to create opportunities remotely for students whose placements have been cancelled due to the crisis.

Innovating remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic

"Experiential learning opportunities are still available and diverse in the time of COVID-19," says Nadia Bhuiyan, vice-provost of partnerships and experiential learning. "It's been incredible working with so many different people and seeing how quickly everyone rallied to help our students."

She adds that these opportunities are as critical as ever. "And while the real hands-on experience is unbeatable, we are trying to be as creative as we can in the current reality to ensure that our students get the best experience possible and are still afforded the opportunity to apply their knowledge."

Alex Megelas, programs and communications coordinator at Concordia's Office of Community Engagement (OCE), says his unit is also mobilized in coordinating online EL opportunities for students.

"As part of its commitment to supporting student learning, the OCE has matched dozens of students in remote placements throughout community groups Montreal-wide," he explains.

"Students are still getting access to the kinds of powerful educational experiences and critical perspectives that usually stem from hands-on learning. They are also able to substantially contribute to work done by community groups providing needed services during the pandemic. So, for us, this is experiential learning at its best."

The benefits of EL are multifaceted

Experiential learning bridges the gap between theory and practice, allowing students to participate in concrete activities related to their studies, either on campus, within the community or in the workplace.

Students develop an increased sense of preparedness for life and work through EL. By combining lived experiences with reflection and analysis, they are able to contextualize learning in class and internalize knowledge more profoundly than in a traditional lecture-based course.

EL increases students' motivation to learn, boosts self-esteem, strengthens capacities for leadership and heightens engagement in school and at work.

It also enhances students' acquisition of professional and transferable skills, such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and autonomous learning, while helping them build resum´s and networks and pursue their career aspirations in tangible ways.

EL Office, website and roadmap

To coordinate its ever-expanding EL offerings, Concordia has created the Experiential Learning Office and website to support and communicate activities across the university and with partner organizations, organize workshops and offer any services departments and programs may need.

The online EL roadmap is also an important tool that allows students to browse potential opportunities and create a personal EL program to complement their studies.

Learn more about Experiential Learning at Concordia

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