What is experiential learning?
Remember how you learned to walk as a kid? You probably won’t! Here is a summary of most probably how you did it — you tried to take baby steps, lost your balance and fell. After the initial shock of the fall, you tried again. However, this time you flailed your arms around in the air, kept your balance and managed to walk. That, in essence, is experiential learning.
Simply put, experiential learning is learning through experience. However, concrete experience is just the first step in the learning process. It is followed by reflection and review of the experience followed by abstract thinking to conceptualize the meaning of the experience. This leads to a decision to act — to flail your baby arms around to keep your balance while walking is one such example.
Experiential learning is touted to be the future of education. It provides hands-on learning to students and makes them industry-ready. Let’s take a look at the three most promising technologies of the future that adopt experiential learning to change the way our progeny learns.
According to Techopedia, augmented reality combines real and computer-based scenes and images to deliver a unified but enhanced view of the world. Apps like Aurasma, Quiver and Mondly are already changing the way children learn concepts and languages.
Using Augmented Reality is cost-effective since it is available in most of the smartphones we use. Its highly interactive nature engages the students and makes learning fun. It also encourages collaborative and diversified learning giving kids a more immersive experience along with their friends.
According to Britannica, the use of computer modeling and simulation to immerse a person to interact with an artificial three-dimensional (3D) visual or other sensory, computer-generated environment is virtual reality. Coupled with haptic feedback and motion capture tracking, the experience can be very close to reality.
Though VR is an expensive technology to set up, its advantages are revolutionary. It takes students beyond the walls of a school and to places they could otherwise not go to. It creates visualisations to otherwise abstract concepts that cannot be effectively explained in a classroom. It can also be used to teach soft skills through simulations, especially to kids with special learning needs such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and high-functioning autism.
Just like augmented reality and virtual reality, gamification is another step towards immersive learning. Introducing game elements and video game design into learning environments can lead to capturing the interest of the learners and encourage them to continue learning while maximising their enjoyment and engagement.
Elements in games like progress mechanics (points/badges/leaderboards), plot and characters, instant feedback, collaborative problem solving, scaffolded learning with increasing challenges through social connection can be brought into the classroom to enhance teaching.
This helps students take ownership of their learning, gives them the freedom to fail and try again without negative repercussions and enables them to divide their tasks into a manageable set of subtasks. On the other hand, it gives teachers more scope to give personalised education and inspire students to discover their own intrinsic motivators for learning.
Experiential learning, along with hybrid classrooms is going to be an essential component of education in the near future. It has the potential to change teaching-learning for the better and make the classroom experience highly engaging, purposeful and authentic.
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