Researchers
June 25, 2020

Promoting Experiential Learning in Online Instruction

The shift in education to online instruction has never before been as prevalent as in this post-COVID-19 world. But now that so many students are engaging in online coursework, the struggle becomes the teacher’s ability to provide relevant, authentic instruction over a computer screen. Experiential learning is a crucial component to the student’s comprehension, but it’s not easy to instruct digitally. Still, there are ways that experiential learning can be promoted, even via online instruction.
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Online instruction is quickly becoming the preferred method of learning, particularly in higher-level institutions. This shift was in the works prior to the pandemic of COVID-19, but the forced isolation of online schooling exposed millions of students to a type of learning they didn’t understand before, and now many of them prefer it over the typical classroom experience.

Whether you’re a teacher or student, forced to attend school through a screen or doing so by choice, there are benefits and challenges. One of the hardest aspects of the teacher’s job with producing online coursework is ensuring the student has enough experiential learning for the subject. This type of education is crucial to enhance comprehension, but it’s not one that is easy to instruct in distance learning.

What is Experiential Learning?

As rigor and relevance have become buzzwords in the classroom, instructors have learned to adapt their lessons to encompass experiential learning. This phrase refers to a model of instruction that allows the students to engage in a simulation of a real-world, direct experience, or the actual experience itself, and then absorb comprehension from that situation.

After the hands-on learning experience, students are expected to reflect on what they observed and discuss the ideas, consequences, and knowledge obtained from the lesson. They then analyze and evaluate what they took away and attempt to apply it to other topics or situations.

The basic components of experiential learning include practice, reflection, evaluation, and attempting until comprehension is obtained. It’s a valid method of instruction. The difficulty with experiential learning in an online class is that the instructor and students are unable to participate together unless they attend a specified activity at a set time.

Engaging in Experiential Learning Online 

There are challenges of including experiential learning online, but there are also strategies to promote this type of instruction via distance learning. When those strategies are implemented in higher-education, students receive direct advantages, such as:

●      Improved engagement in the lesson. Through experiential learning games and activities, instructors can get more knowledge packed into a shorter session, and studies show that that knowledge is comparable or better than that of a direct lesson in a traditional classroom.

●      Multiple attempts to learn the content. In the traditional classroom setting, the instructor does not have the time or capacity to support multiple do-overs. If a particular student doesn’t grasp the concept, they’re left behind as the classroom education continues through direct instruction. But with experiential learning in online settings such as simulated learning experiments, the student can repeat the lesson until it becomes solidified in their memory.

●      Enhanced confidence to attempt learning and make mistakes. In a traditional classroom setting, students often sit back and let the “star” pupils do the bulk of the work. This could be due to laziness, or because they’re intimidated and nervous about making mistakes in front of others. Both of these obstacles are removed when the experiential learning is online. Students can attempt a choice without fear of embarrassment or damaging the group’s grade when they are in working alone.

●      Encouraged social forums. Rather than isolating the students, distance learning in experiential settings encourages them to communicate. Through social forums and user profiles, students connect, reflect on the experiences they had, and discuss and evaluate actions.

●      Inexpensive resources. A drawback to experiential learning in the classroom is that the instructor must provide enough resources for everyone to engage in the activity at the same time. With online experiential learning, there is typically one cost to access the program, which is often offset by the institution’s expenses. As many students as are covered in the program’s licensure are allowed to benefit from the learning experience. Online learning is quickly becoming the predominant method of instruction in higher institutions, which means there are lots of inexpensive resources available for the instructor who knows how to search for them.

With so many benefits to online instruction and sufficient strategies to support experiential learning from a distance, this challenge to digital learning is quickly becoming obsolete.

Using Impactio to Encourage Learning

As a scholar, how you present your information to your students is important. Because of this, you want to ensure you have a strong platform to create your resources. Impactio is designed for expert academics to be the go-to program for any of your publishing needs.

Ready to communicate with others about their distance learning ideas? Join Impactio’s global community of your peers to share your methods and find new ways to promote experiential learning in your new digital classroom.

Tags Experiential Learning Learning
Jason Collins
Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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