What is experiential learning

 In Education, Learning

What’s experiential learning?

Experiential learning (EL), is simply learning by doing.

All of us have learned how to walk and talk by practicing our skills and refining them. Trainers and facilitators are able to use this method in all kinds of situations with people of all walks of life.

Experiential learning is best described as:

“Developing personal understanding, knowledge and skills through reflection and analysis of activity”

This definition of “Activity” can encompass anything, from an individual explaining an idea to completing a simple task to complex group interactions that involve a variety mental attributes and behaviours.

Experiential learning is about the individual’s learning process. Experiential learning can be illustrated by going to the zoo to learn through observation and interaction, rather than reading books about animals. This allows one to make discoveries and experiment with knowledge from firsthand rather than reading or hearing about others’ experiences. Similar to job-shadowing in business school, internships in student’s fields can offer valuable experience that contributes significantly in the student’s understanding of the real world.

Kolb’s experiential education theory

David Kolb is most well-known for his work in the experiential learning theory, or ELT. Kolb published the model in 1984. He was influenced by Kurt Lewin and John Dewey. The four stages of experiential learning theory are concrete learning, reflective observation and abstract conceptualization. The first two stages involve gaining an experience. The second stage focuses on changing that experience. Kolb believes that learning can be seen as the learner moves through the cycle. They are able to enter the cycle at any point.

  • Concrete Learning A learner experiences a new or different experience, or interprets an experience from the past in a new manner.
  • Next, the learner will do reflective observation. This is where they reflect on their own experience. To reflect on this experience, they use their understanding and experience.
  • Abstract conceptualization occurs when the learner creates new ideas or adapts their thinking based upon their experience and reflection.
  • Active experimentation lets the learner apply the new ideas to the real world to see if any changes need to be made. This can be done in a short time or long time.

What are its Benefits?

1. It’s more engaging and memorable

It’s easier to remember and more engaging. This requires you to take action so that your performance is not compromised. This is important because, historically, you learned from books, articles, lectures and other forms of learning. Learners could read or skip the text, leaving with little knowledge.

2. It’s more personal

Learning by doing is a way to have a personal experience. This cycle, which includes effort, failures, reflection, and refinement is only possible through your personal emotions. Your motivation to learn about a topic that is relevant to your ideals and values will help you achieve this cycle.

This connection is more powerful than reading articles or books and offers a richer experience. This personal connection is even more important because it encourages curiosity and exploration from learners.

3. It is community-connected

Learning by doing is about learning from others, not just in your own room. You can leverage the entire city as your classroom technically. You can connect local issues with larger global themes by collaborating with local partners and leveraging local resources.

4. It’s more integrated into people’s lives

This type of learning can be deeply integrated into your daily life. Deep learning is best when learners are able to apply the knowledge they have in a classroom setting to answer any questions they care about.

There is so much information available, but people still ask “what’s the point?” If they are unable to connect knowledge with their personal lives, it can be difficult for them to remember. Experiential learning makes it easier to apply knowledge.

5. It builds success skills

Learning by doing has the final benefit: it helps you to improve your success skills. Learning by doing allows you to get out of your comfort zone and discover new things, as well as try out new things. While you’re sure to make mistakes, this method doesn’t mean that you should be ashamed.

Final Thought

David Kolb’s theory states that experience is the best way to learn. This theory must be remembered by teachers when they teach or lead activities to learners.

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