At collaboration! CWIE is about cooperative education and about integrating work in education. An educational institution cannot offer CWIE programmes in isolation. Partnerships/collaboration is essential.
Internationally, it is considered essential to work according to unambiguous standard operating procedures (SOPs) to maintain quality. A SOP is a “written procedure prescribed for repetitive use as a practice, in accordance with agreed upon specifications aimed at obtaining a desired outcome”.
Why integrate work experience in a learning programme? The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) defines a learning programme as “the sequential learning activities, associated with curriculum implementation, leading to the achievement of a particular qualification or part qualification”. The decision to include work experience in a learning programme is a curriculum decision—where curriculum “refers to all of the teaching and learning opportunities that take place in learning institutions including:
- purpose and values of the learning
- learning outcomes
- content, activities, methods, media
- teaching, learning strategies
- forms of assessment
- evaluation of delivery, moderation”
If workplace experience is considered necessary it is included. But who decided? Stakeholder representation in the decision making is essential for determining fitness of purpose. However, unless the perceived relevant workplace experience can be adequately replicated within the teaching delivery, partnerships with sufficient stakeholder hosts are an undeniable necessity.
The starting point for any qualification therefore is adequate stakeholder representation. If during such stakeholder deliberations about the curriculum of the qualification indicate that inclusion workplace learning is regarded necessary, then shared responsibility and stakeholder partnerships become a condition of the learning programme. This is how cooperative work-integrated education become part of the teaching strategy.
It is further important that the educational institution nurture and expand the stakeholder involvement and establish sufficient partnerships to have sufficient hosting opportunities for the credit-bearing curriculum part work experience.
The nature of the work experience; the learning content thereof; how the learning would be acquired; the methods of accumulation of evidence of such learning; and the assessment thereof forms part of the teaching and learning development that flows from the curriculum decision.
The methods of maintaining communication with stakeholders; the identification of students in need of placement; the facilitation of the selection by organisations as to which student/s will be hosted; the preparation of students for such selection; the placement procedures and contracting with host organisations; the monitoring of the required workplace experience and monitoring of the mentoring of the learning; the monitoring of formative assessment and the summative assessment of accomplishment; would all form part of the SOPs.