At Fanshawe College, we had two teams working on separate projects. Reports for each follow.
Candace Miller, program manager, Lawrence Kinlin School of Business
- The primary goal of this project was to increase community and student engagement in post-secondary programs (Child and Youth Worker, Bachelor of Commerce–Management) through offering experiential learning opportunities with Riipen. The projects were put on hold during the academic strike in the fall of 2017 because the projects were facilitated by faculty. After the strike, the work with the Riipen platform commenced and client connections were made.
- The experiential learning project was a requirement in the Bachelor of Commerce (Management) Capstone Client Project course (MGMT-7025). Students in the course worked toward completing the several competencies that align with this project:
- Formulate strategies to establish effective working relationship with clients, suppliers, and coworkers.
- Identify project tasks and establish strategies to complete the tasks, clarifying individual roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities for deliverables.
- Communicate marketing recommendations persuasively/accurately in oral, written, graphic formats.
- Develop an appropriate business strategy and tactical plan for marketing products, concepts, or services to an identified market.
- Design recommendations for optimization of digital technologies to improve business performance.
- Develop professional development strategies/plans to enhance leadership and communications expertise.
- Use appropriate information technologies to maintain accurate and timely information on all client, supplier and coworker interactions.
- Work as a collaborative team member to achieve project goals and objectives.
- Participate efficiently and effectively in meetings using professional protocols.
- Draw conclusions and propose courses of action based on second and primary market research information.
- Perform research, prepare assignments and presentations, and engage in communication and collaborative activities with peers, clients and other stakeholders.
- Data from learners and employers was gathered using an electronic survey tool (before and after the project) in order to capture expectations and user satisfaction from the different perspectives.
- The project was successful in that it gave us a good idea about how this platform works, we gathered more information from the vendor via a couple of meetings and conference calls. We may investigate this application to support a new project, along with similar applications. More discussions are needed over the fall semester to make this decision.
Lisa Wells, manager, Continuing Education and Contract Training, Woodstock/Oxford Regional Campus
The original project was to connect employers with our graduates of our Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (HRAC) program. At an advisory meeting for this program in early 2017, the employers indicated that new hires struggle with customer service and that we should enhance this component of our program. In response, we set out to create a customer service challenge for our students. Originally we felt that we needed to combine a customer service exchange with a technical task, so we decided to create a furnace service call. As an element of this culminating project, students were required to create a video during which they addressed a service issue. This video was to be uploaded to Riipen for an employer to view.
The project was not successful for a variety of reasons, but what we learned from this project was vast. Our first challenge was that we had a faculty strike in the middle of the academic year which shortened both terms. We also found out that students were not keen to be filmed, nor did they want to volunteer for a project. We had only one student volunteer to complete the task and they were unable to solve the technical problem so they did not want to use their video.
Since we were committed to this project we decided to try it with our Continuing Education students in our Gas Technician program. There, we had a slightly better result. We had six people volunteer, but in the end only four actually completed the video project. However, the video provided a lot of insight into what parts of a customer service scenario our students struggle with. We also decided that a filtering process was needed so that only the best videos would be reviewed by the employer.
Mike Tucker, professor, Lawrence Kinlin School of Business
Faculty and project support team members participated in Riipen webinars and accessed the sandbox tools. In the Kinlin School of Business, the experiential learning project was facilitated in the Bachelor of Commerce (Management) Capstone Client Project Course (MGMT-7025), which has 12 students. Mike Tucker was the professor of the course and worked daily with the students and the client to ensure good communication and collaboration.
Lisa Wells, manager, Continuing Education and Contract Training, Woodstock/Oxford Regional Campus
We had our program coordinator of our HRAC program, Greg Taylor; our employer partner, Mike Kapin from Mike’s Heating and Cooling; our shop assistant, Ben Sharpe; and Norm Wronski, our videographer involved. We communicated in person, online, and on the phone. We asked the students to volunteer during class as well as online.
Experiential Learning Details
Mike Tucker: Twelve MGMT 7025 students were originally engaged with two clients, which was reduced to one after the five-week labour disruption in October and November. Students completed a market assessment analysis for a company, Deetag, in London, Ontario. Client projects for the MGMT 7025 Capstone were completed on January 18, 2018, and graded by the professor, as per the published rubrics in the course information sheet, with feedback and comments provided by the external client.
Lisa Wells: Our project had each participant perform a customer service/technical demonstration of a furnace service call. The participants engaged the customer to find out what the problem was and then had to repair the broken furnace. The students were evaluated on how well they interacted with the customer, whether they answered the customer questions, the steps they took to troubleshoot the furnace issue, and whether they could fix the furnace in the time allotted. In retrospect, this was a difficult challenge for the students for a couple of reasons. They felt a time pressure that wouldn’t necessarily be there in the field. Two of the four participants said things that would give a homeowner cause for concern as they were just trying to make conversation. One of the four was not able to solve the problem.
Technology User Experience
Mike Tucker: The platform was used with one client. I worked with the client and the platform during the period of the course.
Lisa Wells: As mentioned above, we struggled to complete the project with participants. We had to start over with a completely different class. We waited for our employer to upload his profile so that our finished videos could be evaluated.
The support from Riipen has been excellent. They had to explain the project and what the steps were several times during this project. We couldn’t ask for better support. We have been challenged by students not wanting to be part of the project.
We met with Riipen representatives in the late winter of 2018 and provided feedback at that time.
Mike Tucker: Because there was only one client and small number of students I gathered feedback informally. I have and will share his experiences with professor colleagues and academic managers if further work with Riipen commences.
Lisa Wells: We found out that students were not keen to participate in this project. We would need to make this a mandatory component of their program in order to get more participation. Our demonstration had too many aspects to it and this made it hard to film. I would recommend trying this approach again in a different area. There were valuable teaching moments during this process as two of the individuals really struggled during their demonstrations and their instructor was able to give them good feedback to help them be successful on the job.
Mike Tucker: In future, Riipen could again be used to match eighth-term management and digital marketing students to organizations looking for projects that require the attention of a capstone learning experience.
Two other potential adoptions of the Riipen platform we are considering include:
- Using Riipen to recruit companies to participate in the Community Consultancy course, which is offered in four graduate certificate programs. This would potentially affect 60 students and 20 companies annually.
- The Lawrence Kinlin School of Business, which is in the process of building its own case study repository. A challenge is often finding subjects, and Riipen has been identified as a potential tool to alleviate our rising demand for subject material.
Lisa Wells: I think that this would be an excellent teaching tool, and I think we should implement it. We have learned that we must consider carefully what we ask students to produce and upload onto Riipen for their client to see. We may want to develop a filtering process in the future.
As a college, we are also considering adopting Riipen or a similar product as a tool to capture and track experiential learning projects across the college for all academic schools and regional campuses. We will be having a broader discussion with all academic managers about that idea. We will need to engage more with the vendor to better understand licensing costs, supports, and training for users.
- As a purpose-built software application with a growing user base and track record, Riipen should be considered for post-secondary institutions interested in providing structure, a database, and a tracking system for experiential learning. We have not compared this product to others that may be in the same space so cannot comment on comparative advantage or benefits.