As a master student of Multilingual Education, I think a lot about the acquired knowledge in terms of its practicality. We learn and review various concepts that are used in relation to multilingual education and society, as well as reflecting on them analytically, sometimes even critically. However, how would any university program change if to apply work-based learning (WBL) into a course curriculum or whole university program?
What is work-based learning? It is an educational strategy that gives students an opportunity to apply academic knowledge in real life settings. Work-based learning is beneficial in terms of students’ motivation, career options, and competencies required to be a good employee. This type of educational strategy motivates students creating a career awareness. Theory and practice always go together, mostly seen as two key dimensions of WBL. European Commission introduces WBL as a functional tool to be used in vocational training. However, I believe that WBL is helpful not only in vocational training but also in university life. It is like a gate that opens a door to the world of the highly competitive labor market, where practical experience is an asset. Personally, I had an experience of facing this educational approach during my bachelor’s degree program. For the final exam on Marketing Research, my groupmates and I had a chance to work in a bank and explore its services (a. Different groups chose one particular service; b. Anonymity: there was a concrete bank). The experience of applying theoretical knowledge in a real-life context helped me to build a picture in my mind about a career choice, competencies that I gained as the result of this opportunity, and, most importantly, to understand the nature of a workplace.
How can we link it to our program? In one of the courses on Educational policy across contexts, we talked about curriculum and textbooks in Kazakhstan. We raised different issues about textbooks and came to the conclusion that collaboration between teachers, researchers, and policymakers is important. This is the case where WBL could be applied in order to reach targeted goals. Sometimes, I am quite disappointed that some policy documents of Kazakhstan do not necessarily rely on a previous research or literature in general. The role of different stakeholders might not be mentioned sometimes. What if we could apply WBL into our programs to use our knowledge and really help our country in difficult times? Why do scholars do research for the sake of it? How their voices will be heard if there is no collaboration between different stakeholders? If not WBL, then what other approaches can be considered?