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Experiential learning leads to quality education

Experiential learning leads to quality education

By bringing play way methods in the classroom, engagement increases in a fail-safe environment for the learners

In the present day, the effectiveness of the traditional lecture-based mode of teaching needs to be revisited. With the advent of online courses, which offer conveniences beyond imagination, pressure on college teachers is immense.

In Engineering education, a more ‘experiential’ mode of learning is increasingly becoming necessary. Educational institutions that have built their reputation on more traditional teaching methodologies find themselves in severe competition for students and funding with more modern counterparts who are more agile in embracing new methods. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is clear in articulating a need to focus on more holistic education and the development of skills.

Learning by doing          

An important aspect of experiential learning is ‘learning by doing’, where the emphasis is on application rather than rote learning. The second aspect is ‘create’ and is of special relevance today as it is clear that the most aspirational path for high calibre graduates in entrepreneurship.

Enforcing reflection

Another component of experiential learning that bears discussion is ‘reflection’. Even when institutions, professors, and learning embrace learning by doing, emphasis on reflection is poor. Except perhaps in research, where critical analysis is unavoidable, learners in higher education seem to linearly go forward. It is our thesis that enforcing simple reflection on the part of the learner can go a long way in improving the overall quality of education.

Exposure to application

Student, at all levels, respond well to these methodologies. While not neglecting development of basic fundamental understanding of the subject, exposing them to application, analysis, and so on, and getting them to think, formulate problem and develop solutions, is critical.

Moreover, it is virtually impossible for a single instructor to match the richness and breadth of perspectives that the class can access When they are ‘allowed’ to share their thought processes. When it comes to reflection and critical analysis of their work, while our college and even graduate students are untrained in this regard, they adapt quickly to the challenges.

 However, a few important challenges should be acknowledged. One is that teachers and professors are themselves not well-trained in presenting curricular material in this format. The second is that giving students ‘voices’ in class is difficult, especially in large classes. Perhaps a third important point is that Engineering students are raised to be very ‘mathematical’ in their thinking, and struggle at times to articulate their thoughts and arguments in clear sentences.

Play-based learning       

In our experiences, an important aspect can be embraced, which can go a long way in markedly improving how our young people learn, and also how happy, engaged, and motivated they remain. It is the concept of ‘play to learn’, a catch-all phrase for gamification of learning. Perhaps a better way would be to call it paly-based learning. By bringing play into the classroom, engagement increases, and a fail-safe environment is provided to every learner, which will help in the transition to higher levels of learning.

Moreover, games can be easily adapted for pre-classroom learning, replacing ‘boring’ reading of textbooks with ‘fun’ playing. Student feedback about games and game-like interactions for conceptual learning is unequivocally positive, they particularly like the stress-free, inclusive and exciting new ways of acquiring information.

 Online games to reinforce concepts

Another related aspect is the use of technology. It is becoming clear that technology has the potential to be a great enabler, particularly for high-quality and deep learning. For example, while every subject has a number of facts to be presented to new learners, a teacher can provide online games that allow students to practice Concepts and learn facts on their own time, and use and use time, use class time for in-depth explorations of ideas rather than for lectures. Online polls provide Students a way to anonymously provide their viewpoints and reflections to the instructor, and in fact can be used for instant feedback, even in large classes. There are other numerous examples that can be provided but the right use of technological tools can genuinely help us move forward.

In conclusion, teaching and learning, across the board –in second, colleges, and institutions of higher education –is on the cusp of changes, and embracing methodologies that focus significantly on interactive and engaged learning, is key.

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