IUSE Project

Since 2017, the research team at Northeastern University has been developing a virtual internship and team project model. The original focus of these efforts was to broaden participation in experiential learning for non-traditional and underrepresented students. When COVID-19 caused the rapid transition to remote work and learning, the team realized that the model they had been developing could be leveraged to address the crisis.

Increasing Experiential Learning Opportunities via Virtual Internships:

At the beginning of the pandemic, the research team rapidly adapted their implementation process and opened access to the virtual internship and team projects model as an alternative or replacement to decreasing experiential learning opportunities. The research team focused on training new faculty and providing platforms for universities and community colleges to share their practice as they implemented the model. As a result, 16 institutions serving undergraduate STEM students are at various phases of implementing and scaling the use of Virtual Internships and Virtual Team Projects to provide much needed experiential learning and real-world projects for their students.

Implications Beyond the Pandemic:

The increased use of the model over the past year has afforded the research team the opportunity to better understand implementation challenges, how to maintain the efficacy of the design, and examine which specific mechanics of the model are driving the outcomes.

City of Boston - Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP)

The research team collaborated with fellow Northeastern researcher Dr Alicia Modestino to support Virtual Work opportunities for youth in Boston. Dr Modestino’s research found that Youth in Virtual Internships were as likely to develop strong work habits and soft skills that those with an in-person job. Insights that add significant value to the overall I-USE research project.
  • Provided 124 virtual employment opportunities as part of the Youth Summer Jobs program in 2020.
  • Planning for 2021 is underway

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Massachusetts Work Immersion Network - MassWIN

The research team collaborated with the Massachusetts STEM Council, Executive Office of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement virtual WBL projects into Career and Technical Education. A professional development (PD) program was created to train the teachers on implementing the model. The PD program added value to the partner institutions implementing virtual internships in the IUSE research project.

Supporting MA DESE with a state-wide Virtual WBL Programs

  • 11 Schools and 33 teachers currently participating
Target FY 22 FY23/24
Schools 12 – 16 50+
Teachers 20 – 30 100+
Industry 25 – 50 100+
Students 400 – 600 2000+

Illionis WBL Innovation Network - I-WIN

IUSE partner Education Systems Center launched the Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network to support teachers, students and industry partners with the implementation of virtual Work-Based Learning opportunities.


Target FY 22
Schools 15
Teachers 30
Industry 30 – 60
Students 300  – 600

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