As is suggestive by the name, Experiential Learning implies learning from experience. David Kolb, a renowned psychologist was behind this theory. According to him, “this is a learning process where knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”.
This is a holistic theory, which emphasizes how experiences including cognitive and environmental factors as well as emotions influence the process of learning. It is a common observation that people learn most when they actively participate in their own learning. Learners should have a sense of control over their learning situations. The essence of experiential learning is such that for effective learning to occur, students should be provided with learning experiences so they can relate them with real-life. They should be encouraged by their teachers to experiment and think independently. Experiential teachers should be such that they are able to create opportunities for reflection on learning experiences to apply them to future learning. Teachers should focus on the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of their students and should encourage them to experiment and think independently.
Experiential teaching can help you engage and motivate learners, encourage them to discover things on their own, and make them learn through experience, rather than just relying on facts and latest trends for knowledge. Technology is another important aspect of experiential learning, currently relevant to our society and also for the future. For effective experiential learning, technology should be utilized in a responsible and critically aware manner. It encourages students to learn by collaboration and participation and students become very engaged when they use a real-life method of learning. Research is indicative of the fact that technology can be used to enhance experiential learning in three ways: recording the experience and referring to it later, creating a virtual community of participants like students and teachers, and enabling new avenues for the community to reach its goal. There are a number of available technologies to realize these outcomes. One of which is the use of online learning communities to link students with workplaces and to establish communities of professional practice. The technology roles for experiential learning should include:
- Technology should provide tools to support knowledge construction.
- It should be the information driver to explore knowledge to support learning by constructing.
- It should be the basis of learning by doing.
- It should be the social medium to support learning by conversing.
- It should also support learning by reflecting.
Teachers must be open to new ways of attaining learning goals, emphasizing the creation of learner-focused environments that facilitate personal experiential learning activities. The use of technological tools to create experiential learning by teachers eases their transition from just being providers of knowledge to being the chief guides of learning. There are many ways by which teachers can help their students in experiential learning through technology; some tips for teachers to guide them in experiential teaching with the help of technology are as follows:
Incorporate social learning and interaction into online learning : Because social networks are being increasingly adopted by a large number of new generation learners. The interaction that happens in social networks hold similarity to the attributes of experiential learning.
Online video conferencing : Through the use of microphones students are able to speak, use chat and share PowerPoint presentations during live meetings. These technologies make them feel more connected with each other and closer to their teacher.
Make students complete specific assignments using technology : Help them engage in concrete experiences by locating a website related to a specific topic, reflect on that experience in both audio and text, conceptualize the observations and test them by applying the experience to their own situation. This strategy enhances student engagement while using technology.
Use technology that employs sensory input : This allows students to express themselves and increase engagement in learning. It also allows students to gain ownership of their own ideas and communicate them clearly, thereby encouraging experiential learning.
Use Mobile technology : It is effective in improving knowledge creation during experiential learning. With computing power and wireless capabilities, mobile technology makes learning expedient, immediate, authentic, accessible, efficient and convenient.
Employ digital game-based teaching : Computer-based environments are considered to be a motivating and engaging approach to learning where benefits from direct exploration of ideas and construction of meaning can be realized.
Use focused resources : Digital resources should be developed to support and focus students on the curriculum and learning outcomes that are planned for experience. Students should be able to access these directions, resources and prompts whenever they need.
Encourage asset creation : Technology provides students with the ability to record aspects of their experience in a range of media formats. Smartphones and other small portable recording devices allow the student to document key elements of their experience. Photography, sound/video recording and note-taking are valuable assets for further analysis and reflection.
Facilitate collaboration : Collaboration is an aspect of experiential learning that can be well supported with technology. Various forms of instant messaging with faculty or other students can be extremely valuable for time critical questions, concerns or discoveries. Other forms of collaboration such as shared online writing spaces support work that is ongoing and less time sensitive.
I would also like to mention a great U.S event named, Maker Faire which is the epitome of experiential learning. It is a teacher’s dream come true with a focus to eliminate troubles of teachers to maintain student engagement and to find real-world connections to the concepts they teach. Basically, Maker Faire is a 1-3 day event that gives students an opportunity to meet different makers, with hands-on experiences that include tinkering, creating, building and modifying what is already built to make it stronger. It is a gathering of fascinating and curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing their ideas. It’s a venue for makers to show examples of their work and interact with others about it. Many makers involved in this event have emphasized on the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approach in learning, which is often invisible in our communities. It highlights the significance of DIY in experiential learning, that DIY helps us create our personal learning experiences by making discoveries, forming new ideas and completing tasks on our own. For students, the Maker Faire is a place where their dreams can come true. For teachers, the Maker Faire brings learning to life and is the perfect place to inspire creativity in the classroom.
Teachers should realize the fact that thoughtful integration of technology can aid experiential learning in many ways, and technology can also facilitate several niche forms of experiential learning. So, the next big thing which needs to be seen in learning through technology is the incorporation of technology in experiential learning to provide substantial learning experiences. I hope this article will help out teachers in following this approach to make their teaching more effective. Share your knowledge and views with us. The Comment Box awaits you.