Experiential Learning: Meet Riipen

Photo credit: Greg Anderson Photography

Students often graduate university with little to no real world experience. These students are then required to start in an entry-level position to gain any experience at all. (how many degrees does your barista have?) Experiential Learning has become a hot topic recently as schools try to prepare students for the real world. There are two ways to achieve an experiential learning component in a degree: 1) co-op/internship terms for students, and 2) class projects that require the students to work with companies. Experiential learning isn’t going anywhere – New York state and Ontario are attempting to mandate this type of experience for all students. So how do schools bridge the gap for their students? Meet Riipen.

Riipen (pronounced ripen) helps instructors find companies and create projects for students. The companies get rated based on how much support and interaction they have with the student groups so future teams of students know they will get the appropriate amount of support from the company they are selecting to do the project on.  The students get rated by the companies, creating an online reference letter for their work. The companies are also required to provide feedback to the instructor on how the students did and the quality of their work, completing the feedback loop.

David Moulton (Marketing faculty, Douglas College) described the experience as positive with a few small glitches. From his perspective Riipen was able to sign up organizations that he would not have been able to contact (one example is the Whitecaps FC in Vancouver). Most of his students worked hard on their projects and they received job offers from the sponsor companies! However some of the traditional issues that are faced when working with group projects and organizations didn’t go away. There were instances of students not engaging with the project. There are also organizations that sign up to take on student group projects that don’t follow up or have time to meet with the groups. So the rating system that Riipen has implemented has not completely eliminated the issues of engaging students and organizations.

Riipen currently works with companies and schools all over North America and will be expanding to Mexico, Ireland, and Australia in 2017.

Feature image for this post: Meeting by Marco Antonio Torres

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