07 Feb 2020
Inside Learning Technologies e-Magazine Page 20
Experiential learning in a digital world Experiential learning is what we do as humans. It happens for most of us in some form nearly every day: learning by doing. What relevance does this hands on way of learning have in the ever-evolving digital world? Often referred to as learning through discovery, relevant practice or by action, the concept of experiential learning has been around for centuries. Even Aristotle refers to the principle of humans acquiring knowledge through the experience of doing. “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them…”
Fast forward to the twentieth century and John Dewey in his book Experience and Education (1938), was one of the first modern scholars to really focus on how human beings learn through a 'hands-on' approach. Dewey embraced the idea of pragmatism in education, believing that constructive engagement with reality would naturally inspire learning: “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” However, the most influential thinker on experiential learning is David Kolb. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984) still stands as the go to reference point on how this type of learning works. The experiential learning cycle The cycle basically involves four stages, namely: concrete learning, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. Effective learning can be seen when the learner progresses through the cycle. The learner can also enter the cycle at any stage if the approach is logical.