In the current economic landscape, with competition for rewarding, well-paying jobs tougher than ever, the need for workers to further their education continues to grow. In this environment, positions are becoming more fluid and individuals are increasingly called upon to have a variety of developed skill sets and ability to fill multiple roles simultaneously. Thankfully, there are numerous educational opportunities available to those looking to further develop their credentials.

Continuing education programs provide individuals with flexible, accessible, and affordable learning opportunities. Amongst the most exciting and enriching opportunities available are those integrating Experiential Learning (EL) and Work Integrated Learning (WIL) into the education environment. Experiential Learning, or "learning through doing," enables adult learners to gain new skills and marketable experience simultaneously, with classroom and online learning complemented by hands-on projects, experiences, and activities.

New approaches, greater results

McMaster University Continuing Education (CE) has long been at the forefront of providing adult learners opportunities for growth and progress. CE offers a wide variety of courses that include experiential learning by combining theory with a real company project through which students can apply their knowledge to solve an industry problem.

"[We] value being able to extend experiential learning opportunities to our students so they gain practical experience and improve their career readiness."
– Dr. Lorraine Carter, Director of McMaster University CE

"Experiential Learning complements other forms of learning. Adult learners get the hands-on experience they need to demonstrate to current or prospective employers that they have the skills and practical experience to be successful in their chosen career paths," says Dr. Lorraine Carter, Director of McMaster University CE.

McMaster University Centre for Continuing Education's commitment to the value of EL is exemplified by its ongoing relationship with Riipen, an experiential learning platform that supports students, educators, and companies and involves real-world industry project experiences. Riipen's mission is to reduce unemployment among university and other graduates by providing a digital platform for employers to post challenges or projects for students to work on while they are in school.

"We began our journey with Riipen with two experiential learning assignments," notes Dr. Carter. "Since then, we've expanded to 10 more courses and have broadened the scope from Human Resource Management to Marketing. To date, we have more than 800 students who will have completed an industry project in their area of study through this partnership."

Opportunity through practicality

Courses featuring a Riipen experience project replace exams with authentic and rewarding group projects from actual companies. This real-world experience enables students to add project successes to their resumes and build a project portfolio, while instructor and industry feedback help to fine-tune students' skill sets.

"Our students are benefitting not only from McMaster's longstanding commitment to program excellence but also the experiential learning and other benefits made possible through Riipen."
– Dr. Lorraine Carter, Director of McMaster University CE

Students also get the opportunity to network with industry professionals, build relationships with other students in their field, and gain experience using online collaboration tools. "We are proud to have been Riipen's first Continuing Education partner in the university sector and value being able to extend experiential learning opportunities to our students. This way they gain practical experience and improve their career readiness," says Dr. Carter. "Being able to provide professional learners with the chance to work with industry partners on authentic initiatives is the unique value of this collaboration. Our students are benefitting not only from McMaster's longstanding commitment to program excellence but also the experiential learning and other benefits made possible through Riipen."

Long an innovator, and always a leader in continuing education, McMaster Continuing Education, through this unique relationship with Riipen, brings the benefits of Experiential Learning and Work Integrated Learning to its students as they actively seek new skills through continuing education. Further, McMaster Continuing Education continues to adapt curriculum to fit an ever-changing and challenging world, putting the needs, dreams, and goals of students first.

 

Learn more about how you can jumpstart your career by visiting McMaster University Continuing Education.