Sept. 27, 2021

Online platform helps further UCalgary’s commitment to experiential learning

Elevate, UCalgary’s career, advising and student-experience portal, launches
UCalgary campus where students can learn by doing
Ewan Nicolson, for the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary has launched a revamped platform to support student success.  

Elevate harmonizes several tools into one career, advising and student-experience portal. It merges longstanding Orbis sites including CareerLink for student employment and internship opportunities, the Success Portal for advising and student success workshops, and the Involvement Portal for the Co-Curricular Record.  

In addition to continued streamlining of job postings and advising, the platform will link students, faculty, staff and community partners to experiential learning opportunities. Traditionally used by co-op and internship programs, the platform is now being explored and adopted by leaders of other forms of experiential and work-integrated learning including case competitions, field placements and practicums.

“Elevate is an exciting new tool that will help the University of Calgary scale experiential and work-integrated learning. It is especially important in light of the stated targets in the Government of Alberta’s long-term strategic plan, Alberta 2030,” says Dr. Teri Balser, provost and vice-president (academic).

Our UCalgary Experiential Learning Plan has also set bold targets for high-quality experiential learning, so we can support all our graduates in finishing their degree programs with in-demand skills and innovative thinking.

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning — or learning by doing — offers real-world experiences for students, providing skill and knowledge development to further navigate degree experiences and successful careers. It includes internships, field studies, co-ops, laboratories, creative performance, simulations, capstone projects, practicums and undergraduate research, among many others.

These opportunities prepare students to grapple with messy problems, sort through different perspectives, and develop new skills and ways of thinking. Work-integrated learning, a type of experiential learning, provides opportunities to learn by doing in a workplace setting. Helping students find workplace experiences is an area where the university is expanding its efforts. 

“Having a one-stop-shop experience in the Elevate platform for experiential learning is a huge step in making these activities a priority,” says UCalgary Students’ Union Faculty of Science representative Chaten Jessel.

“Having these opportunities accessible and visible for students makes it that much easier for us to find and secure important experiences during our degrees.”

Types of experiential learning at UCalgary

Types of experiential learning at UCalgary

Experience catalogue on Elevate

Students now have a new way to find relevant opportunities to get involved and learn by doing. “Our new Experience Catalogue on Elevate is publicly available and serves as a valuable tool to current and prospective students — we have 800 opportunities and counting already posted,” says Erin Kaipainen, associate director of experiential and work-integrated learning.

In addition to recommendations from mentors and advisers, the catalogue helps students find curricular and co-curricular activities that match their interests and help to grow personal networks.

Over the fall semester, the Office of Experiential Learning will continue to engage with the campus community to ensure experiential learning and involvement activities are included, beginning with the inclusion of work-integrated learning courses. The catalogue currently includes activities from UCalgary’s Co-Curricular Record, co-op and internship programs, and case competitions.

The campus community can help build the Experience Catalogue by submitting experiential learning and involvement opportunities for inclusion using a brief online

Looking forward

UCalgary President Ed McCauley supports the value of experiential learning and the important role that community partners play to make these opportunities happen. “The world is changing, and we know experiential learning helps students build skills that will enable them to flourish after graduation in whatever path they choose,” he says.

“Our community is strengthened when we can connect and collaborate with partners beyond our campuses, expanding capacity and contributing to knowledge-building, which is why I am so excited to see this platform launch at such a critical time.”

Using specially designed and assessed activities, experiential learning enables students to increase understanding, challenge and advance perspectives, clarify values, develop and hone their skills, and promote new ways of thinking and doing. These opportunities prepare students to lead and respond to change and thrive in an increasingly complex world. Learn more here.