Experiential learning is the new age of learning, in which students are encouraged to investigate study opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. This will give the students the chance to learn in different dimensions. The experiential learning activities are designed in such a way that they help students be a part of the process and reflect the understanding of the process that they gain from it. The experiential learning tactics are incorporated into the study cycle from kindergarten to higher classes.
The traditional learning system is where a teacher is present and imparts education to students, and this process becomes less effective in the long run as students are unable to derive and analyze the information that they are obtaining from the process. Experiential learning is the only way to equip students with understanding and help them apply the information to their real-life needs.
Experiential learning can be adapted by involving students in different activities like group tours, outdoor learning, industrial visits, etc. Group debates and discussions are another way to get students to write down their opinions and get an in-depth analysis of them. Application of concepts is the best way to teach students of all ages, and it brings in the best results. The role of the teacher also changes when the learning is experiential, as the teachers adapt to the role of a facilitator and help the students engage better in community service activities and outdoor education. When learning takes place in such a way, it encourages students to be more responsive to the environment they are in and accept the challenges that it throws at them. This will help them be part of their own learning process.
Experiential learning follows the principle that experience is the best teacher. Students become more involved in the process of learning, and they start reflecting on it and creating hypotheses, testing them for real solutions, and interacting with the world around them.
Let us look at how experiential learning is adapted into the curriculum:
1. Field-based Learning
The field trip does not just give the students an understanding of hands-on learning but also better involvement in terms of bonding with their peers in an educational environment. Teaching students in a different environment outside of the classroom can help them analyze students in a unique way and get a deeper understanding of how students learn and perform their knowledge. This understanding can help teachers comprehend the worldviews of their students and correct them if they are wrong. This is commonly done in lower classes and then carried forward to higher classes. Students learn many skills through field trips, like:
- Develop better communication skills.
- Ability to comprehend and understand different perspectives.
- Better analysis of the concepts that are learned in class.
- Better engagement of concepts and applying them in real-case scenarios.
- Enhanced interest in the subject.
2. Service Learning
This has been in and around the education system for quite some time but hasn’t been utilized to its maximum effect. It is a pedagogical approach in which students are taught to question everything that happens around them.
Many schools incorporate service learning as a part of their curriculum and give extra credit hours to promote maximum participation. It initiates collaborative partnerships, service learning, etc.
Both service learning and field trips can be done in a variety of ways, and here are some examples of how field learning is infused into the curriculum:
* Visiting primary sources for collecting primary data: Most of the research that the students commit to their project is normally based on secondary data. This is indeed a good way of learning, but not as good as the opportunity to collect and understand primary data all by themselves. For example, if the students are emphasizing a historical concept, then it is ideal to take the students on a field visit to a place that is relative to the topic. Encouraging them to do surveys and collect data firsthand is the best way to create analysis from primary data.
* Getting students backstage access: Accessing backstage gives students an extremely niche experience that is not available to the general public. It evokes curiosity and helps students approach things in a very exclusive way. Taking a lab visit, working in a government office, or even meeting with a local company’s processes is a way that can help students learn things that they are not familiar with.
* Show and tell: Getting students involved in and visiting museums, as well as meeting with the curator one-on-one, can give them a better understanding of the processes used to display items in museums. It helps students inculcate and devise meaningful connections with the scope of concepts that they have learned.
* Retreats: Retreats, picnics, or study tours are a good way to help foster a good bond between the students and a stronger relationship between the teachers and students as well. It takes the students away from the normal chaos that school life gives them in terms of outdoor experiences.
The shift from traditional learning to experiential learning is not an easy one. Teachers must shift their perceptions of being authoritative to someone on whom students can rely. It will take a significant amount of unlearning for teachers and students to become more adaptable to the aforementioned changes. Putting what you learn in the classroom into practice is an experience that you will never forget. It needs a lot of indulgence from students and teachers, and only then can the whole process be considered a success. As the students come into contact with global phenomena like poverty, climate change, global economics, the environment, etc., practical applications of the learned concepts are extremely necessary to be part of this growing and competitive world.