Going on an international placement is certainly a memorable experience. Experiencing a new country and getting to grips with new workplace tasks means that learning doesn’t just happen day by day, it happens hour by hour, and minute by minute.
If you go on your placement, you should be proud of yourself, so why not shout about it? Why not inspire other young people to follow your lead?
One of the best ways of doing this is to build a project website, which is exactly what our partners at Barking & Dagenham College did when their Creative Industries students recently went on work placements in Barcelona.
No experience needed
Hayley Young, an Art & Design Lecturer at the college, had no prior experience in web design, and only started building the website on her first day in Barcelona. Because the college had signed up to Google Suite, Hayley designed and built the website using Google Sites. “Google Sites is so simple and easy to use, it’s basically just drag-and-drop”, she said. “I was doing it on a laptop in a café when the students were on the first day of their placements. It only took a few hours to get started”.
The website includes links to an Instagram page, which students were encouraged to feed into each day. Every student was given a blog page and had ownership over its content. This practice of daily blogging replaced paper-based logbooks and allowed for more involvement and interactivity. Instead of individually recording experiences on paper, the website was a collaborative and creative group project.
In hindsight, Hayley said, “the ideal time to build it would have been when the students were selected, so they could put their CVs there and employers could see this”. During the placements the website was very much a work in progress, with the finishing touches only being put into place on the group’s return. Getting everyone together afterwards to reflect on and evaluate their experiences made for a much more interesting and useful website. “There’s a big emphasis on reflection”, Hayley said, “most of the students have really flown with it”.
The website now stands as a permanent record of each student’s achievement. Students can include the website on their CVs, LinkedIn pages, social media feeds and creative portfolios.
If you’re a student or a tutor, and you’re going out on placement this year, why not start your own?
Tips for getting started
- Use a simple, free website builder such as Google Sites – you don’t need web design or coding skills, and you can download tutorials and guidance if you get stuck.
- Set aside a few hours before you go abroad to design the basic structure.
- Create a blog page for each student and set a basic question structure for their daily or weekly reflections.
- Include links to useful resources, such as local tourist and transport information, and language apps like the Erasmus+ OLS or Duolingo.
- Set up an Instagram account for the project and link this to the website.
- Keep a single point of editorial control for the overall website.
- Bring a laptop on placement with you to update it as more content comes in and set aside an hour a day to keep on top of this.
- Encourage students to post photos, text and images to their blog pages regularly.
- Set up a workshop when you come back to finalise each blog page, and to create a unique record of the project for years to come.
- Share it widely – make sure friends, family, employers and future contacts can see how life-changing the Erasmus+ experience was.