ACEN Virtual Summit 2020 wrap-up
As for many organisations, 2020 was the year of doing things differently for the Australian Cooperative Education Network (ACEN). To ensure that its members had continuing access to professional development despite COVID-19, ACEN made the decision to hold its first fully online two-day annual conference in late 2020. The WIL community response was fantastic, with 583 registrations from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Together participants explored issues reflecting the key theme of ‘Beyond 2020: Creating the Future with WIL’ through showcases, refereed paper presentations, interactive roundtables and social spaces and sessions. The eight sub-themes included the following:
- Enhancing employability through WIL.
- Delivering quality WIL.
- Service learning and community engagement.
- Globalising WIL.
- Collaborative stakeholder engagement.
- Innovative, scalable and sustainable WIL.
- Indigenous engagement: Building capacity through WIL.
- WIL leadership: Shaping the Future.
Many Deakin people attended and presented, such as Dr Karen Le Rossignol, who shared her work on ‘Perceptions of Disruption and Uncertainty in WIL Digital Storyworlds’. Assoc. Prof. Harsh Suri and Fred Kaider shared early findings and insights from a large collaborative project looking at ‘Virtual WIL: Technology Enabled WIL Placements and Projects’ and Assoc. Prof. Rola Ajjawi, Prof. David Boud and Dr Joanna Tai from the CRADLE team hosted a roundtable on ‘Assessment Design for Work Integrated Learning’.
Deakin’s support for this event included hosting via our digital infrastructure and contributions from Dr Lisa Milne (Lecturer, Teaching capability, DLF, ACEN VicTas Chapter committee member) and Kathryn Whitney (Portfolio Manager, Engagement, Arts & Ed) to secure sponsorship, deliver a digital vision for the event, handle programme planning and host sessions on the day. The organising committee also included our ACEN colleagues Judie Kay and Leoni Russell from RMIT, Rachael Baron from Latrobe University and Prof. Susan Rowland from University of Queensland.
Attendance at individual sessions was high, with some attracting up to a hundred participants. This highlights the affordances of virtual sessions, given that except for the traditionally large keynote and townhall sessions, our physical venues would struggle to accommodate such high numbers. Just over 50% of those who participated in the evaluation activity indicated they were first time attendees, indicating that online options seem to be more easily accessible – an important lesson to reflect on in planning for events in 2021.
Join us in 2021
ACEN worked hard over 2020, and will do so again 2021, to provide online webinars, resource and opportunities to discuss the range of local and international WIL community responses to a global pandemic that has had a strong impact on WIL practitioners. Deakin is an institutional member of ACEN, so all of these events are free for Deakin employees to attend. There is also a members discount for attendance at the next ACEN conference in October 2021. We hope to see you there!