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Achieving Quality Education through Internationalization using Digital Technology: Reflections on a Collaborative International Masters Programme in Work-Integrated Political Studies
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4822-6247
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5848-4288
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. University of the Western Cape (ZAF). (LINA)
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 72-73Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, internationalization has become an important component of higher education for universities. The rationale behind the internationalizing of university courses and programs varies, depending on focus and interest, with some being of more marketing/economical character and other more concerned to deepen the quality of higher education. Irrespective of the main reasons behind the process, the internationalization of higher education tends to expand even further, not least due to the possibilities connected to digital technology.Indeed, in more recent times the Covid-19 pandemic, has deeply digitalised educational and working life, raising deep questions not just about the modalities of learning, but the possibilities of new kinds of learning too. It is this concern that is the ma in focus of this paper: in what ways does deepening digitalisation enable internationalisation, and what are some of the dynamics, positive or negative, associated with this new trend?This paper answers this question through an initial high-level study of a joint international master’s program in Work Integrated Political Studies (WIPS), developed between University West (UW), Sweden, and the University of Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. The collaboration is unique in that it introduces new academic ways of learning and substantive content, formed through the development of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) as an academic subject and postgraduate degree. Central to WIL is the idea that learning happens equally through doing real world tasks as much as through traditional teaching, and this involves workplace as well as University activities. Consequently, and important part of the WIPS programme is a final year research internship, integrated with a compilation thesis, which provides the students with a possibility to study and conduct research on real world challenges, for a host organization. 

The paper employs an analytical framework using six concepts from the literature: (i) neo-liberal versus (ii) better quality education; (ii) pedagogically integrated a nd (iv) accessible digital technology; (iv) learning through doing as well as teaching; as well as (v) better life readiness.

The internationalisation literature highlights the distinction between the development of programmes aimed to secure more short-term, elite status and financial ends, and those orientated to better quality education through longer term, multicultural engagement of difference. This gives the first two concepts to look for: neo -liberal internationalisation versus internationalisation for better quality education. The digitalisation literature notes the importance of digital technologies that are thoughtfully integrated into a coherent pedagogical approach, and that are accessible to users, whether through public infrastructure or skills development. This gives the pedagogically integrated and accessible digital technologies. Finally, the WIL literature identifies an approach to education that integrates traditional teaching with real world practice, through synergies between the university, the student and the workplace, and that better prepares students for life after the University. This highlights the learning through doing as well as teaching and better life readiness concepts. Based on the primary data gathered from students and staff at both Universities during the first year of the masters, the paper demonstrates how digital technology, complemented with student and staff exchange, helps make the programme a more international, and a more educational environment. Interestingly, this remains true, even while the collaboration between Sweden and South Africa exposes real and important differences in practices and meanings of university teaching, working life and the significance of employability across context – indeed, it is the confrontation of these differences from which much new learning emerges. At the same time, there are limitations or challenges to internationalisation using digitalisation, and a key one is the uneven access to digital infrastructure across the two contexts, a s well as the limitations to boding in an online only environment. The article concludes by arguing that to develop a truly international educational environment, digital technologies should also be organized alongside real-world interactions in a way that enhances students’ interaction, nvolvement, and feeling of belonging. Done correctly, long-term sustainable international collaboration using digital technology, and thereto connected pedagogics, can bring the world closer, and can also reduce the economic and environmental cost of internationalization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 72-73
Keywords [en]
Work Integrated Learning, Internationalisation, Digitalisation, Partnership, Education, Research
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Pedagogy Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19565ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19565DiVA, id: diva2:1725619
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Available from: 2023-01-11 Created: 2023-01-11 Last updated: 2023-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Sunnemark, FredrikLundqvist-Westin, WilmaAssmo, PerPiper, Laurence

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