Where there’s a WIL there’s a way: Niagara College-led project prepares students for on-the-job education

Dr. Natasha Hannon, manager of educational development (right) and Dr. Jennifer Martin, educational developer with Niagara College’s Centre for Academic Excellence, demonstrates one of 31 interactive online modules, developed through a collaborative project led by Niagara College, that will help students navigate work-integrated learning opportunities.


A project spearheaded by Niagara College is better preparing post-secondary students across the country for work-integrated learning opportunities (WIL) like co-op placements and apprenticeships.

The Work Integrated Learning Open Module Initiative is a toolkit for post-secondary educators, consisting of 31 online modules that help students make the most of work-integrated learning opportunities offered by their school. The modules equip students with the knowledge they need to navigate co-op placements, apprenticeships and other on-the-job learning opportunities, including job-search and interview skills, research and business communication skills, and long-term career planning.

These interactive modules are Open Educational Resources (CC BY NC 4.0) designed to be downloaded and used by colleges and universities across Canada to develop customized work-integrated learning toolkits. The modules and all associated source files can be accessed at https://www.niagaracollege.ca/cae/wil/.

Work integrated learning is a crucial way Ontario colleges prepare students for their careers through hands-on job experience working directly with professionals in their chosen field of study. It also strengthens Niagara’s local economy by producing students and graduates who enter the workforce with job-ready experiences already under their belt.

“After consulting with faculty and staff across the College, we saw an opportunity to develop a toolkit that educators, not only at Niagara, but across the country, could use with their students to help prepare them for on-the-job learning opportunities,”  said Dr. Natasha Hannon, Manager of Educational Development with Niagara College’s Centre for Academic Excellence.

The Centre led a multi-disciplinary team of 24 staff from Niagara College, Georgian College, Algonquin College, and Lambton College in creating content for the modules. The project received $100,000 in funding from eCampus Ontario, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen Ontario’s post-secondary education system by increasing access to online learning.  

The modules are already generating interest from across Canada, as far east as PEI and as far west as British Columbia. “The response so far has been phenomenal,” said Hannon. “Work-integrated learning often kick-starts a student’s career. To know that these modules will help students make that next leap in their career and education is incredibly rewarding.”

Niagara College’s Centre for Academic Excellence works in partnership with the academic departments and service units of Niagara College to enhance educational quality and support innovation in teaching, learning and curriculum through quality assurance processes and faculty and curriculum development services, programs, resources and research.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.




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