Brock University’s 2020 Fall Term might look a little bit different than in past years, but students can rest assured knowing its commitment to being a national leader in experiential education is continuing.
The University has been proud to offer experiential education in 100 per cent of its programs, and the opportunity for students to engage with work experiences directly related to their degree programs remains.
The changes due to COVID-19 have impacted some work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences more than others, such as health care, where practicums were affected to protect the health and safety of students, frontline workers and the community.
However, as various industries begin to welcome back students into their organizations, Brock is continuing to support faculty, students and community partners to deliver quality WIL programming while following public health guidelines and protocols. In order to provide clarity to students and answer questions on the issue of experiential education, the University has released a statement, which can be found here.
“The world of work is changing, and our work-integrated experiences are changing right alongside these,” said Cara Krezek, Director, Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) at Brock who also serves as President of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada. “We have developed new ways for students to get experiences as well as changed our approach to ensure that quality hands-on experiences are still at the core of what we do.”
Students in specialized programs such as Teacher Education and Nursing can expect to get direct instruction from their Faculties as there are industry-specific guidelines and limitations regarding the student WIL experiences as provincial guidelines evolve.
“Brock’s commitment continues to be student health and safety while supporting a transformative student experience,” Krezek said. “But we also know that as with many things, our ‘new normal’ will look differently and we are committed to finding innovative ways for our students to gain the experience they need.”
For students in co-op programs, Brock is working hard with its many industry partners to provide the opportunities students have come to expect.
“We also recognize how COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the hiring abilities of employer partners,” Krezek said. “As Canada begins reopening the economy, flexibility around the length of work terms in the current climate is required to allow co-op students to still be able to attain a meaningful work experience.”
The University has worked with employer partners by adjusting the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 co-op work terms to allow a minimum of 280 hours, meaning an eight-week term with 35 hours per week where needed. However, a full 420 hours of experience required by CEWIL’s accreditation guidelines, which have also had to flex as a result of COVID, is still encouraged.
With Brock announcing that the vast majority of its 2020 Fall Term courses would be delivered online, some students have asked if they need to move in order to take part in work-integrated learning experiences. Krezek said the answer depends on the type of experience and the industry that it is in.
“Many experiences are being done remotely and any in-class experiential will be done in the same format as the class,” said Krezek. “For industry experiences that are traditionally done in person, some experiences can be done remotely while others require in-person with public health guidelines put in place.”
The CCEE website includes a full FAQ section, as well as a complete list of all Brock University courses offering experiential learning for the 2020-21 academic year. This list was created based on historical information of courses that have had an experiential offering which will assist students in understanding what their hands-on options could be.
CCEE also has a variety of resources available to help employers with on-boarding and supervising students remotely, and for students to understand what to expect during their experiences. Resources will continue to be built and updated as the pandemic and recovery evolves.