Simulated virtual internships in schools: Engaging learners with the world of work to promote collaborative creativity

Major, L.; Twiner, A. and Wegerif, R. (2022). Simulated virtual internships in schools: Engaging learners with the world of work to promote collaborative creativity. In: MacCallum, K. and Parsons, D. eds. Industry Practices, Processes and Techniques Adopted in Education. Singapore: Springer, pp. 173–195.



School curricula have often struggled to authentically engage young people with the world of work. This chapter examines the potential of ‘simulated’ school classroom-based internships to support collaborative and creative learning and links to the workplace. It reports on design-based research in areas of low social mobility in England. This investigates how simulated internships give students access to authentic experiences of workplace practices in addition to enhancing skills associated with collaborative creativity. Through a challenge-based learning pedagogy implemented as part of regular classroom instruction, simulated internships involve small groups of students aged 11-13 studying Computing or Design and Technology. Over six-to-seven-weeks, together they design, model, or build a local solution to a global challenge presented virtually by engineers in two leading international telecommunications companies. An empirical ‘case study’, based on discourse and thematic analysis, is provided to evidence the scope and challenges of embedding a mutual focus on creative collaboration and supporting authentic insights into the world of work. Reported research is significant as it offers a proof of concept that identifies the potential of simulated internships in generating meaningful insights into the world of work. Focused on the development of collaborative creativity, this conceptualisation of simulated internships can inform and guide future pedagogical and research initiatives. Potentially this could expand to cover other curricular areas and, indeed, other educational settings.

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