Background – The Importance of Work-Based Learning
As educators we know students (especially at-risk students) need and deserve economic mobility and agility. And if you are responsible for managing or overseeing a work-based learning program you are already aware that your program increases:
- Engagement in the classroom
- Attendance at your school
This deeper engagement occurs because once students start to discover their purpose and passion outside of the classroom, they can connect that purpose to “why” they are in their classrooms. We know that if students make this connection they can start to see their future. This is why it’s so important to get work-based learning right.
Managing Multiple Stakeholders is Complex
There are many steps required for a successful work-based learning program. It is a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders:
- Students who need to take ownership of their progress and communicate their interests
- Business partners who need to be recruited and then given a simple way to engage with our students and provide opportunities
- Intermediaries in communities that need to manage opportunities across districts and stay in the know of what student interests are so they can create opportunities for placements
- Program administrators who need to provide logistical support and focus on quality experiences
- Administrators who may need to comply with both state and federal reporting
Then, taking this to the next level, each stage has specific logistical tasks that need to be managed:
- You need to manage your potential business partners to recruit and engage with
- You need to keep students safe by ensuring background checks are done before a student shows up for work.
- Once you’ve recruited a business partner, you need to begin to identify students for onboarding. That requires creating and distributing many different forms, from identifying students’ interests to getting parents’ permission to participate in the program.
- Then you need to onboard the business partners once you’ve made a match. That includes confirming expectations, such as a student’s weekly work schedule and the specific onboarding needs of both employer
- During the program you will want to find out how the student is doing and collect feedback both from both the employer and the student.
- And when challenges come up, you’re going to want to know immediately so issues can be addressed, the school and the student can both maintain the relationship with the business and support is given to the student.
- And finally, when the experience is completed, there are all sorts of reporting and tracking that are necessary so you can tell your story and to comply with the reporting that is needed for both state and federal grants.
Despite all of this complexity, 93% of programs are actually tracked on paper and spreadsheets, which creates multiple challenges for scaling a program.
- It adds time and creates difficulty managing business partners over an extended period of time
- It adds time and expense for the hosts who aren’t sure where they’re at in the process with both the school and the student.
- There are countless errors when hand-entering information
- There is significant time and expense for counselors who are trying to facilitate experiences
- There is no quick way to identify problems that are happening on-site
- There is also no visibility or information for administrators trying to understand the logistics of what is going on in their school districts.
- Compliance is difficult
- And finally, real-time visibility and quantification is next to impossible
Processes that begin with paper and spreadsheets quickly reach a plateau because you end up managing paperwork and not your program.
The rest of this short article will explain the crucial features and capabilities required in work-based learning software to help you scale your program. For an even deeper dive you can also check out the video webcast directly below.
Webcast – Crucial Features Required in a Work-Based Learning Software to Scale Your Program
In this 15 minute webcast, two award-winning work-based learning program veterans, Dr. Lazaro Lopez and Dr. Don Fraynd, will discuss best practices for scaling a work-based learning program and share some of the software features required in a Work-Based Learning Software that can make this possible.
Features Required in a Work-Based Learning Software
Needs to Help You Manage Your Business Partners
The right career learning program software starts by helping you manage your business partners.
You need a place to log and capture information as you recruit partners. And then you need a place to capture more information as you develop them over the different stages of engagement.
You also need software that collects information on the people who will be working with students, and makes it easy to determine their capacity and ability for hosting events and sponsoring apprenticeships with different schedules. The software should also make it easy to add contacts or hosts to keep track of their interactions with students and track background checks.
Additionally, ongoing management of the hosts who work with students is really important. It’s helpful to monitor and archive all email exchanges within the software, review the host/student reflection logs to keep tabs on their interactions and how things are going at the internship site. You need an easy way for students to have their hours verified from the employer with tools such as a one-click email verification, which allows the host to simply click ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to verify the hours the student has submitted, all leading to increasing levels of engagement.
Needs to Help Onboard and Manage Your Students
The opportunities and information provided by your business partners (once approved) need to become available to your students. In addition, your work-based learning software also needs to integrate with your student information system to ensure that you don’t need to enter students’ information separately in multiple platforms. This helps to avoid errors, increase student adoption and to give your students access to relevant career readiness information already in your systems. Your career learning software also needs the ability to create customized student profiles so you can track the details on specific students and their work. The software should provide counselors the ability to automatically assign students tasks such as interest inventories, career nights, shadow days, and so on.
Your software also needs to help you with the ongoing management of students in the program. This includes establishing the career awareness journey that each student needs to embark on, assigning tasks, activities and experiences unique to their career cluster and creating customized goals for groups of students. And finally, you need to monitor that progress all along the way.
Needs to Keep Students Motivated
Next, your software needs to keep students motivated and engaged so that they’re eager to take the next step in their career readiness journey. The software needs to empower students to own their journey and to be responsible for what comes next. They need one place for progress tracking towards all of their overall goals. And finally, badges, credentials and endorsements gamify the student experience in the software platform so they keep coming back for more to take the next step in their career awareness journey.
Needs Advanced Reporting
And most importantly, to help improve and expand your program, you need advanced reporting and dashboards. A software should allow you to create ad-hoc reports on the fly with any data element that is being tracked in the system. You need to be able to generate reports from any field and then customize dashboards for each role, because each person working on this project may need different types of data. You need to be able to easily create state compliance reports in any combination required by your state or district, and you need to use data to drive every aspect of your career learning program.
So, how do the right features help your work-based learning program? It saves an incredible amount of time and expense collecting data, managing partners, tracking communication and background checks and so on. It really makes scale possible when everything is in one place and streamlined within a software platform. It allows staff, students, and partners real-time access to the information and data that they need to be successful. It prevents time loss from calculating data, pouring through multiple spreadsheets or pieces of paper, and it adds transparency to students and guardians, all making compliance very easy.
About Transeo Jobs
Transeo is a suite of cloud-based educational solutions that helps students and staff connect to each other in a more effective way. We make community service tracking and internship reporting easy. We help schools and districts move away from paper-based processes so counselors, advisors, and administrators can invest more quality time with the people who matter the most: students.
Transeo Jobs helps students focus on becoming career ready by putting opportunities, classes, and experiences in one dashboard. We help schools keep track of complex information and complicated interactions in our user-friendly platform that manages key contacts and service providers.