Aligning Experiential Learning within Course Design: Try Riipen

You may have heard the buzz around Integrated Learning Experiences (ILEs) in the last several months at the University of Toronto. Interest and engagement has been growing with news of institutional priorities related to the Integrated Learning Experience framework developed by the Provost’s Task force on Experiential and Work Integrated Learning and a range of initiatives aimed at increasing capacity in these areas.

One new project to come out of this exploration is a pilot that supports the experiential learning across a range of discipline and course contexts, targeting opportunities for undergraduate students. Within a course context, they will work on mini-projects, or “micro-experiential learning” assignments that are aligned with course goals, as well as an external partner needs. The project leverages a third party platform, Riipen, to facilitate partnerships with community organizations and businesses by helping with the matching process, project set up, and ongoing coordination. Instructors who are experimenting with the Riipen platform are aiming to provide a wider range of experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, while at the same time streamlining the administrative workflow and coordination tasks. Another feature is the opportunity for students to get feedback directly from community partners and create a portfolio featuring their demonstrated skills.

Riipen Logo

The initiative, lead by Prof. Phanikiran Radhakrishnan of UTSC, has been funded by the Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF) as a two-year pilot. The aim is to evaluate Riipen’s potential to advance the goals described by of the Task Force on Experiential Learning. Across the institution we are seeking to provide students with the “ability to bridge theoretical and practical learning and to observe how the material they have learned in class takes shape in the world… and include(s) examples of experiential, work-integrated, and community-engaged learning that integrate disciplinary outcomes with community engagement and competency development.

We are currently looking for more instructors who would like to get involved. For more information, or if you are interested in joining the pilot, contact online.learning@utoronto.ca

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