Work-integrated learning (WIL) is on the rise as many universities adopt strategic targets for student workplace preparation as an element of their tertiary studies. Through WIL, students gain real world experiences, transferable skills and build professional networks. WIL is often understood as a placement activity, whereby students spend extended periods of time in industry, typically at the end or near end of their degree. These placements are designed to encapsulate the theoretical learning of a degree through the opportunity to apply knowledge and practise skills in a physical workplace. While there is much evidence in the higher education teaching and learning scholarship that attests to the benefits of placement-based WIL for all stakeholders, innovation in WIL that integrates work practices with learning is also occurring without time on placement or within a workplace. In recent years, WIL activity has extended beyond limited conceptions as describing only placements, to include a range of simulated, virtual, authentic and industry-based activities. The uptake of non-placement learning activities presents as opportunity to investigate the benefits, utility and innovation of this growing pedagogy to contribute meaningful insights to higher education scholarship and practice. This special issue is being published during the trials of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. This global pandemic has shattered economies, touching every domain of life, including completely disrupting higher education. The call for papers for this special issue was conceived and advertised well before the universal lock down. There was evidence to suggest universities were exploring and experimenting with new ways of engaging with industry partners and that these models were offering extraordinary benefits to student learning and application of knowledge. The COVID-19 situation escalated these experiments, determining virtual WIL and projects or activities leveraged through technological platforms, as the fortuitous survivors. There is no doubt that WIL pedagogies and programs have been hit hard, however, this hardship for some has been described as cause for a learning revolution. For WIL research, this could be the impetus for questioning dominant modes of WIL and extending our understandings and knowledge of the impact of alternative WIL models.