FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The University strongly encourages our partners to support remote working options for students. Keep in mind that policies, regulations and requirements related to COVID-19 are constantly shifting so it is important to continue to review all relevant regulations.  

However, some experiential learning opportunities (e.g. co-op, placements, internships, practica) may continue to operate on location, depending on the circumstances. The health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff are paramount, and the University expects that any organizations remaining open and willing to host students will maintain safe and clean work environments and adhere to all relevant federalprovincial and relevant municipal (e.g. TorontoPeel, etc.) government and University of Toronto health regulations and requirements. In-person interactions should be minimized, guidance about social distancing followed, and students should not feel compelled by anyone to do something that, under the circumstances, feels unsafe. Faculty, staff, and/or students with concerns regarding continued participation in these experiences should contact their academic program director. 

Should an organization hosting a University of Toronto student choose to offer a remote working arrangement, we recommend reviewing resources such as those created by the University of Waterloo regarding remote working practices for students and employers in impacted EL placements. 

If the experiential learning component is not a canonical element of the course, but rather a choice that the instructor has made, and not part of the grading scheme, then the change can be made by the instructor without any further steps necessary. The instructor may choose, for example, to use some alternative form of experience to substitute for the originally scheduled activity. 

If the experiential learning component is not a canonical element of the course, but part of the course delivery mode that the instructor selected, and it is integral to the marking scheme, then a class vote should be held.  The instructor proposes a new marking scheme that does not rely on the EL component, and the students vote on whether to accept the new marking scheme. Information on how to hold this vote online can be found on the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation’s Continuity Planning page. If a vote is not possible because of timing issues, then the instructor needs to work with their Chair or Dean so that the Dean can submit a formal request to the Provost for a disruption in the course per the Policy on Academic Continuity. 

You can find resources related to both onboarding and supervising students remotely on Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s website. You may also want to review this document that discusses onboarding and supervising students remotely.  

There is also a growing body of research on best practices for transitioning to a remote work and research environment. You will find information on designing internships and creating a supportive working environment for students and supervisors in remote settings on the Remote Experiential Learning resource, Academic Internships.  

The Remote Experiential Learning resource, Designing Remote Activities to Spark Student Engagement, offers some useful strategies when considering how to design remote activitiesYou may also want to review this document that offers considerations and strategies to employ when remotely facilitating synchronous events and activities. Additionally, the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation offers resources for Teaching Online/RemotelyEngaging Students, and Continuity Planning and Online/Remote Learning.  

Remote partnerships present unique opportunities for faculty and staff to engage with community organizations. The Centre for Community Partnerships has compiled a comprehensive document, “Community-Engaged Learning in Online Spaces,” outlining best practices for creating and sustaining partnerships during COVID-19. This document outlines a variety of models and methods designed specifically for remote and virtual partnerships.  

 You may also wish to visit the Remote Experiential Learning resource focused on Effective Partnership Development and Engagement for more information. 

Pivoting to remote research can provide an excellent opportunity to engage students in unique ways. You may wish to visit the Research-Intensive Courses section of our Remote Experiential Learning resources which  provides insight, tips, and tricks for creating undergraduate research opportunities during COVID-19.  

Field experiences are a vital part of many experiential learning opportunities. There are a variety of ways that faculty and staff can provide field experiences for students in a remote environment. Please visit the Field Experiences section of our Remote Experiential Learning resources where you will find additional resources and information to support designing virtual field trips and field experiences. Included on this page is an FAQ document regarding designing and delivering Field Experiences (virtual and in-person) during COVID-19.  

The Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering has put together resources to help you identify what types of video recording and editing software work for various course requirements. And, if you need inspiration for creating your own virtual field experiences, you may want to explore Professor Nick Eyles’s Planet Earth Online page for UTSC’s EESA06. 

It is necessary for University instructors and staff to determine if placement organizations are eligible to be covered for workers’ compensation through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

If students undertake an unpaid placement 1) at a partner organization where employees are covered by workers’ compensation through the WSIB and 2) as part of a for-credit course, they are eligible for coverage by default and University instructors and staff are not required to establish any additional coverage.

If students undertake an unpaid placement at a partner organization that is not covered by WSIB or is outside the province of Ontario, students are covered by Chubb Insurance of Canada. In such cases, the University  placement coordinator needs to be provided with this information. Please contact placements@utoronto.ca for more information.

The Guidelines & Procedures section of the Hub offers a general overview of guidelines and procedures related to experiential learning. For more information on workplace insurance for unpaid placements, consult the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students.

Given the many forms that experiential learning takes, you may want to connect with your academic unit or other local office (campus or faculty) to understand your options.

Approaches to partnership development will differ based on a host of factors including your learning objectives, whether you have previous relationships with the organizations or communities in question, and what type of organization you wish to partner with (e.g., local organization, large corporation, public institution). There are resources and supports across campus to help you determine what considerations should be taken into account for partnership development in your context. For an overview of considerations related to building and maintaining ethical partnerships, explore the Building Partnerships resource.

For more information on local infrastructure and resources available to support the development of partnerships, contact your Dean’s Office. For support with community-based partnerships, contact the Centre for Community Partnerships.

Reflection is a key component of students’ experiential learning, as it supports the integration of new understanding into a student’s overall knowledge base. There are many ways to incorporate a reflective activity into a course or program depending on the timing, depth, and motivation for reflection. For an overview of different types of reflective activities and how to assess reflection for both quality and rigor, explore the Reflection resource on the Course and Program Development Resources page.

Experiential opportunities in the context of a for-credit course can be as short as a half day, such as with job shadowing experiences, and as long as a full term placed on site with an external organization, with a range of options in between. The duration and scope of the experience typically depends on the learning goals of the experiences, as these will help identify the appropriate location, timing, duration, and intensity of the experience for a given course. For more information about developing a curricular experiential learning opportunity, you can review the Faculty & Staff Learn page and the Course and Program Development Resources page. For more information on local infrastructure and resources available to support the development of curricular experiential learning, contact your Dean’s Office.

Institutional funding for developing and/or implementing curricular experiential learning opportunities in first-entry undergraduate divisions is available through the Provost’s Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF). The focus of this program is to enrich the learning experience of undergraduate students in first-entry divisions across the University and to provide faculty with a mechanism for developing and enhancing the research, assessment, and application of high-impact teaching practices within learning environments at the University. The Fund is intended to support projects that will anticipate, leverage, and create positive changes in both the modes and mechanisms of undergraduate education at the University of Toronto.

Academic divisions may also provide development grants for pedagogical initiatives, including experiential. The following list is not comprehensive, so we recommend contacting your Dean’s Office.

Experiential learning activities are primarily intended to support student learning in three ways: to directly apply or observe the application of disciplinary skills and knowledge outside the classroom; to gain direct experience with professional practices and work environments in a profession or field related to their studies; and to reflect upon how the experience furthers a student’s disciplinary learning and their personal and professional development. In these ways, experiential learning opportunities will provide students with a more fulsome lens through which to think about their academic learning, enhance their ability to contribute to the in-class components of a course, and support their ability to make better informed decisions about future academic and professional opportunities.

If the student is on an unpaid placement, the following steps need to be followed:

  1. The student should immediately notify their placement employer/supervisor and their University placement contact.
  2. The University placement contact must complete the Accident Injury Form on behalf of the injured student and should provide it to placements@utoronto.ca within 24 hours.
  3. The University Coordinator, Student Placements will provide the University placement contact and student with next steps and appropriate documentation.

If the student is on a paid placement, they are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) as an employee of the placement organization. The internal protocols of the organization should be followed to manage the insurance aspects of the injury. The University program coordinator must also be informed about the injury.

Academic internships, practicums, and co-ops offer students the opportunity to spend time in professional work environments but there are fundamental differences between them.

A practicum or clinical placement is a curricular opportunity that is designed for students who are required to meet a set number of hours as part of an academic program of study and/or to meet a prerequisite for a licensing board or professional certificate. Students on practicums do not usually have their own caseload/workload as the work they do is completed in a supervised setting. These opportunities are typically unpaid and are often found in clinical and education fields.

An academic internship is an internship that is connected to a course or program of study. These opportunities can be full-time or part-time and the duration varies depending on the circumstances.

Co-op programs have clearly defined work terms, students complete a 4, 8-, 12-, or 16-month full-time term.

Academic internships differ from co-op programs in a few ways: academic internships that are connected to a course are typically unpaid while the significant majority of co-ops are paid; organizations who hire students from accredited co-op programs are eligible to apply for the Ontario Co-operative Education Tax Credit; academic internships typically have a more defined pool of students from a single course or discipline of study, while the pool of candidates for a co-op placement tend to be larger. There are also key differences related to the guidelines and procedures associated with these types of placements.