Riipen has been on the summer conference circuit! We’ve been energized by the conversations and communities that are engaging with experiential learning across North America. Here are a few highlights.
Experiential Learning Leadership Institute conference:
This unique conference is hosted every year by Southern Utah University in collaboration with the National Society for Experiential Education. ELLI’s mission is to provide experiential learning educators with the tools they need to succeed. True to their mission, the conference was entirely framed as an experiential learning opportunity! Based out of Flagstaff Arizona this year, attendees were offered many exciting experiential learning excursions to nearby landmarks like the Grand Canyon.
Dana Stephenson (Riipen’s co-founder and Director of Academic Partnerships) co-presented at the ELLI conference in May with Dr. Linden Dalecki (Associate Professor of Marketing and Social Entrepreneurship at the Kelce College of Business at Pittsburg State University).
Linden talked about his experiences using Riipen, comparing it (favorably) to Harvard Business School case studies. He used Riipen in three upper year marketing courses with 4 employers: a publishing firm, a tech company, a theatre manufacturing firm, and the parent company of a large café franchising business.
As Linden said:
“The students benefited from the Riipen experience because they were presented with a real-world situation where there were many ways to add value (none of which are in the back of a textbook), as opposed to the “one right answer” textbook approach. They were challenged to engage in creative problem-solving, and practice a client-focused approach which required soft skills (unlike a traditional classroom). They also had the experience of working in a team, so learned how special individual skills and team synergies are really relevant to success. It was clear that the students understood the content better than in previous years and final presentations reflected that.”
Riipen hopes to be a sponsor and partner of ELLI for years to come (and not just because of the field trips!).
SUNY Career Development Organization Conference
This year’s SUNY CDO conference focused on the theme of “Mapping your Journey.” Cathy Parker, President of SUNY CDO and Associate Director of Counseling at the University at Albany’s Office of Career and Professional Development, emphasized how important it was to build bridges:
“Our common thread is that we all work to assist college students as they map their journeys. Some of us work in a career office as either counselors/coaches or employer relations specialists. Some of us develop products that make the whole process easier. And some of us are employers who welcome students to the first destination on their journey.”
Dana presented with Blaine Warner, Director of Canadian Sales at Symplicity. Blaine and Dana discussed the need to bridge the gap between career services, alumni, faculty, student affairs and other offices to get a clearer picture of the students’ educational journey. They also announced a partnership between Riipen and Symplicity, which allows post-secondary schools to stack multiple technologies to create a customizable solution unique to each institutions’ needs. Dana and Blaine emphasized the huge potential of their partnership to create value for students by fostering collaboration between career educators and faculty.
“Riipen and Symplicity have joined forces to offer a technology solution that enables career services to easily leverage their relationships with employers to empower more instructors to bring real-world learning experiences into the classroom. Our partnership better enables post-secondary institutions to provide support for student career success by embedding experiential learning directly into course curriculum, and linking that to career development.”
The times they are a’changin…
At these conferences, the Riipen team felt a growing excitement about experiential learning amongst educators, career advisors, and counselors. At SUNY CDO, the openness to engaging with faculty was an inspiring contrast with earlier years. The ELLI conference started only two years ago and has emerged as the “go to” conference for experiential educators in higher education, with a new flagship journal launched this year.
The Riipen team also attended the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers Conference and was inspired by how the CACEE conference focus has evolved. As Dana said:
“A few years ago, the keynote speakers were talking about how to innovate the career fair and how to improve resumes. This year, keynote speakers were talking about breaking down silos to create an environment where different offices in the institution are working together for the greater good of students. The idea that career development can take place all across campus (even in courses) is something we really support.”
Building bridges between career services, faculty, and employers to support student career success is a vision that Riipen shares. It’s great to see the growing conversation and level of engagement with this vision across North America.