What is Student Studio?
Student Studio is a service that aims to radically increase the quality and volume of work experience in the construction and engineering sectors.
Inspiring young people to join the engineering profession is becoming an increasingly important focus in addressing the projected skills shortages of the future.
Companies using Student Studio have access to a suite of online engineering-related projects that students can work through during placements. These projects, designed to be carried out in a workplace setting, are intended to simulate what it is like to work on a real project, with realistic tasks to be completed and daily milestones to be met.
A unique VLE
Bringing everything together is this Student Studio website, a virtual learning environment (VLE) created by Think Up in which students access briefing and supporting information for their projects, interact with students working on other projects in other companies, and record what they are learning in their reflective diary.
At Think Up, we see virtual learning environments as valuable complement to, rather than an replacement of, real learning environments. By combining rich digital resources, accessible through the Student Studio website, with hands-on face-to-face activities with colleagues from the host company, Student Studio creates highly engaging blended learning.
Student Studio started in 2009 as an experiment at Expedition Engineering to see if we could create a series of intranet-based mini design projects that work experience students could work through to give them a feel for what it is to be a design engineer.
The aim then, as it remains now, was to maximise student experience at the same time as minimising the burden on the supervising engineer. Over two summers of testing we developed a format for the role-play activities that enabled students to get the most out of the opportunity to learn in and from the workplace environment, that enabled the students to work autonomously when needed, and that provided supervisors with a structured way to support their students.
Recognising the transferability of the model, in 2010 we secured funding from the Useful Simple Trust to create a virtual learning environment that would enable other companies to benefit from the approach. The ICE, Balfour Beatty and the Construction Youth Trust all invested in widening the pool of projects available to companies.
By 2014 over 200 students from over a dozen host organisations had used the platform and demonstrated its appeal and effectiveness. Based on this evidence base, we secured additional investment from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Ove Arup foundation at the Useful Simple Trust to create the fully updated and automated site you see today.