Over the last few years, several startups have entered the adult education and edtech scene. A few notables ones are Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare and Fluent City. Many publishers and brands have taken to creating educational content around skills that range from designing your own company’s logo to making sushi at home.
The common objective here is simple: by creating and sharing content online, educational resources have become exponentially more accessible.
More resources available online equals more people potentially having access. From that, the assumption is that more people will learn. But what will they be learning?
On Udemy, you can learn how to build a database from scratch using Python. By subscribing to Coursera, you have a window into the education you would receive by attending classes at Stanford or Yale. Through Skillshare videos, you’ll pick up everything you need to transform yourself into a full-time freelancer.
Wait, everything? Well, almost.
Of course, there are some things that don’t necessarily translate from online content to the offline world. Currently, online content can only be visual and audio, which can hinder learning — especially if someone learns best by doing. What type of learning is best for that person? Experiential learning is an effective method and one that we believe in wholeheartedly at Fluent City.
Learning More About Experiential Learning
- Concrete Experience: Students have the opportunity and responsibility to explore the subject matter through hands-on experiences.
- Encouraged Experimentation: There is room for trial and error; the instructor is an encouraging guide into this exploration, rather than giving absolute direction.
- Engagement & Collaboration: Students have continuous opportunities to engage with the materials and with each other in multiple ways.
- Active Reflection: Time and space get built into the curriculum for reflection and critical analysis. This can be in the form of discussion, journal-keeping, etc.
Some common examples of experiential learning are internships, undergraduate and graduate research, apprenticeships and study abroad programs. The benefits of experiential learning are important; this type of learning encourages use of multiple senses, consistent active engagement and reflective observation.
Some studies have shown that experiential learning will actually improve memory for knowledge and skills, while also encouraging the creation of new neuron pathways in the brain.
This is because each sense has a separate storage area in the brain — so, experiential learning increases the likelihood that multiple parts of your brain will be used, making it a powerful learning approach.
Experiential Learning for the 21st Century
While many can agree that experiential learning is an effective approach to learning, it’s also important to discuss what sort of experiences students will be engaging with in these non-traditional learning environments.
Traditional learning encourages gaining conventional knowledge like American history and foundational mathematics. What is currently taught in many educational systems is dictated by history and the government. Teaching style is also largely influenced by both history and culture as well.
But there are many recent trends suggesting that the current educational system is not adequately preparing students for living in the real world.
Education is no longer about spitting up facts and mindless consumption about knowledge; it is about genuine, practical application and critically exploring the world around you.
What can be called “book knowledge” is not necessarily obsolete, but it must be coupled with hands-on knowledge about the current state of the world. Context is crucial.
Even the subjects that matter in today’s world have shifted. At Fluent City, we’re redefining what a liberal arts education consists of. Knowing how to cook a good meal or be a culturally aware traveler can be necessary and enjoyable, and we’ve designed our programs around those experiences.
Technology and Experiential Learning
The integration of technology is also key for experiential learning in our digital world. With many ubiquitous tech items like smartphones, tablets and new apps everyday, it only makes sense to find ways to use this technology in education.
Tablets are popping up in K-12 classrooms around the country, and students are encouraged to use apps to supplement classroom experiences for subjects like learning a new language.
The use of online and digital media is becoming increasingly omnipresent in the classroom. Some schools have chosen to adapt to this trend with something called blended learning — the combined use of digital content and a more traditional classroom setting.
More and more educational systems are shifting their resources online to be readily accessible from many different tech devices.
How will education and learning transform to keep up with our exponentially modernizing world? Only time will tell as it continues to evolve, but we’re betting there’s a good chance that the most effective learning will come from experience and the use of digital media.
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