Section

Special issue

Abstract

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) is a variety of learning opportunities that can extend beyond the application of theory to practice, to include complex situational, personal, material, and organisational factors. Central to forming successful WIL experiences is the partnership, support, and collaboration extended by all key stakeholders. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted WIL experiences, with many developed partnerships and sustained practices being abruptly impacted. In 2020, a multidisciplinary group of Australasian WIL academics, administrators and students joined in weekly virtual coffee chats to share concerns and experiences during this rapidly changing educational landscape. These conversations led to establishing a Small Significant Online Network Group (SSONG) and became the basis for this article. We explored the lessons learned from WIL practitioners to be better informed of the practice of WIL and, generally, to examine the role of collaborations in higher education. Using a collaborative autoethnographic approach, this study incorporated written reflections on WIL experiences during COVID-19 lockdowns, followed by Zoom conversations to gain deeper insights. All data was aggregated and analysed thematically, both inductively and deductively, to interpret the practice experiences of individuals in their socio-cultural contexts. This article intends to demonstrate how creative solutions, such as adopting a HUMANE framework, become valuable paradigms. These enhance and nurture relationships between all WIL stakeholders, to enrich and sustain WIL experiences for all.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Successful WIL relationships rely on collaboration between all stakeholders to ensure sustainability.
  2. Adopting a humanistic approach, in this case, the HUMANE framework, has positive outcomes for WIL stakeholders and higher education.
  3. A SSONG is an effective mechanism for supporting collaboration in any educational context facing disruption.
  4. Technology enables WIL stakeholders to connect globally, and through these connections, reflect on differing experiences to broaden creative responses to challenges.
  5. The power of connecting and collaborating provides opportunities to work together and enhances agency, performance, and outcomes that benefit WIL and higher education.

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