Project Summary

Digital Internship Model for Higher Professional Studies

  • Project Title:  Digital Internship Model for Higher Professional Studies
  • Project Acronym:  DIMPS
  • Project Number:  2020-1-RS01-KA226-HE-094527
  • Funding Scheme: ERASMUS+ KA226          
  • Applicant Organisation: WESTERN SERBIA ACADEMY OF APPLIED SCIENCES
  • Project Start Date: 01/03/2021
  • Project End Date: 28/02/2022    
  • Project Duration:  12 months        
  • National Agency in Charge: RS01 Fondacija Tempus 

Work-based learning is a substantial part of professional education. For a vast majority of study programmes in Professional Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs), internship is mandatory for the programme accomplishment, with defined learning outcomes and ECTS-expressed workload. The internship concept is based on a planned period of experience in the workplace aimed at helping students develop particular skills, knowledge or understanding. Limited opportunities for students to physically approach the workplace have strongly affected and delayed the accomplishment of their studies.

A clear need for the development of an internship model that will rely on the virtual-remote-digital format in response to the pandemic has been recognized. In addition, digital internship is a powerful tool for the inclusion of students who cannot participate in traditional internships due to financial, geographical reasons, or disabilities etc. The assignment of work-based tasks that can be performed digitally and remotely, with the development of adequate monitoring of student progress, can significantly facilitate student learning outcome achievement.

The goal of this project is to introduce the specific virtual internship model and methodology for VIs with practical workflows and guidelines, which enable quality design of customized and flexible internship programs. In order to enable functioning of VIs, a specialized web software solution will be designed and developed. It will be based on the proposed VI lifecycle model and methodology, and it will connect all parties (students, schools, and companies) within a secure and collaborative web platform. The goal is to provide a more flexible, efficient, personalized, low-cost, and adapted solution for VIs.

The achievement of the project goal is envisioned through the orchestrated work of experts who have experience in organizing internship systems between PHEIs and companies and a group of experts who have experience in developing web-based platforms. The testing of the online platform for digital internship will be performed by piloting the internship in each country, as well as by virtual student exchanges between partners with complementary programs.

The expected results of the project include:

The model will support the needs of the internship triangle: student-PHEI-world of work. It will allow students to select and approach the digital internship position in the workplace; PHEIs to perform monitoring and validation of student progress, assessment of achieved learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and competences during a digital internship, support to companies in term of training the internship mentors; and for the companies, it will facilitate the internship implementation, which includes designing of a complete or partial digital internship position, selection and delegation of particular tasks to students, monitoring of student progress and program accomplishment.

The development of a digital internship model, envisioned in this project, targets the PHEIs in emergency situations, but it also increases the responsiveness of PHEIs to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that blurred the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. Accordingly, it targets students, providing them with more efficient work-based learning. In particular, it will widen the spectrum of internships that will be accessible for the students with difficulties. The digital internship model also targets the world of work, perceived opportunities and challenges of representatives of key stakeholders in the development of digital internships. All partners will benefit from networking by sharing good practices and widening their teaching capacities via the online internship applications.  It will strengthen the cooperation within institutions becoming more open for mobility and successful acquisition of innovative projects under the EU schemes in the field of professional education development.

Contributing to the supply of digital education opportunities, the project will impact digital education readiness of project partners, but it is readily transferable to other professional higher education institutions. By adjusting learning requirements to outcomes, this digital internship model can be adopted at other qualification levels, particularly those in dual education.