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Experiential Learning: The Role XR Plays in Information Retention

Why should you take an interest in experiential learning? “Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.” Benjamin Franklin took the concept a step further when he proclaimed, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” 


Years later, what Franklin was referring to, the process of learning by doing, would be known as Experiential Learning. When involved in experiential learning, learners engage in hands-on experiences and don’t gain know-how from being shown or told how to do something. Instead, experiential learners gain knowledge through action.

Experiential Learning Theories

Using the theories of Kurt Lewin, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget, David Kolb took the idea of learning being an active process and became the architect of experiential learning. 

Kurt Lewin 

Prominent educational psychologist Kurt Lewin professed that learning could be broken down into a four-stage process. He believed that acquiring knowledge begins with experience, and exposure leads to observations and reflections. Scrutiny and contemplation allow learners to form ideas that get tested in new situations. As Lewin’s learning cycle repeats, students polish their knowledge.

However, you need to share those experiences with others that help problem solve and offer goal-oriented feedback for learning to be effective. Without proper reaction, you cannot properly repeat the cycle. Furthermore, the cycle is also disrupted by the emphasis on data collection and analysis as it obstructs the decision-making process.

John Dewey

Instead of seeing learning as a cycle, John Dewey saw it as an excursion. He believed that learning occurs in phases that begin with impulse and end with a positive experience. Each learning phase consists of four parts:

  • Impulse
  • Observation
  • Knowledge
  • Judgment

Contextualization enables each step to progress until the learner’s impulses become deliberate.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget believed that learning results from the interaction between a person and their environment. According to Piaget, adult thought is based on perceived experience, conceptualization, reflection, and action. As a result, we assimilate to our experiences which, in turn, allows us to construct meaning and knowledge.

Based on Piaget’s belief, achieving experiential learning requires you to tailor the activity with proper facilitation.

David Kolb

Based on the findings of Lewin, Dewey, and Piaget, David Kolb devised the Experiential Learning Cycle. Based primarily on Lewin’s stages, Kolb added Piaget’s idea that effective experiences rely on several factors, including proper design and competent facilitation.

To ensure learners undergo the appropriate experiences, Kolb developed his Learning Style Inventory (LSI). Educators in various disciplines use Kolb’s LSI today to help identify each student’s preferred ways of learning.

Kolb believes that each person approaches the experiential learning cycle differently and how one proceeds depends not only on personality, but on other factors as well, including:

  • Education
  • Career
  • Culture
  • Adaptation abilities

Based on this belief, Kolb came up with nine different ways one can navigate the learning cycle. Learners default to their preferred style without thinking and when under stress. They are:

John Dewey

Instead of seeing learning as a cycle, John Dewey saw it as an excursion. He believed that learning occurs in phases that begin with impulse and end with a positive experience. Each learning phase consists of four parts:

  • Impulse
  • Observation
  • Knowledge
  • Judgment

Contextualization enables each step to progress until the learner’s impulses become deliberate.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget believed that learning results from the interaction between a person and their environment. According to Piaget, adult thought is based on perceived experience, conceptualization, reflection, and action. As a result, we assimilate to our experiences which, in turn, allows us to construct meaning and knowledge.

Based on Piaget’s belief, achieving experiential learning requires you to tailor the activity with proper facilitation.

David Kolb

Based on the findings of Lewin, Dewey, and Piaget, David Kolb devised the Experiential Learning Cycle. Based primarily on Lewin’s stages, Kolb added Piaget’s idea that effective experiences rely on several factors, including proper design and competent facilitation.

To ensure learners undergo the appropriate experiences, Kolb developed his Learning Style Inventory (LSI). Educators in various disciplines use Kolb’s LSI today to help identify each student’s preferred ways of learning.

Kolb believes that each person approaches the experiential learning cycle differently and how one proceeds depends not only on personality, but on other factors as well, including:

  • Education
  • Career
  • Culture
  • Adaptation abilities

Based on this belief, Kolb came up with nine different ways one can navigate the learning cycle. Learners default to their preferred style without thinking and when under stress. They are:

Experiencing

Learners who identify as experiencing seem to be more compassionate. Additionally, these learners excel in teamwork because they establish trusting relationships and are comfortable with emotional expression.

Imagining 

Imagining style learners demonstrate self-awareness and empathy for others and are comfortable in ambiguous situations. Learners who identify as imagining like helping and coming up with new ideas for future endeavors.

Reflecting

Those who identify as reflecting style learners tend to work from the outside. Never taking center stage, you listen with an open mind and view issues from various perspectives to identify problems.

Analyzing

The critical thinkers of the group, analyzing learners, get the full picture of the situation by evaluating details and data. In addition to being meticulous, you tend to plan ahead to try and avoid mistakes.

Thinking

Skeptical yet structured is how Kolb describes thinking learners. If you fall into this group, you effectively communicate your independent decisions.

Deciding

Goal-oriented, deciding style learners concentrate on one thing at a time and find pragmatic solutions to issues.

Acting

Acting style learners do best with deadlines. Assertiveness and courageousness make it so that obstacles don’t stand in the way of your plans. 

Initiating

When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again is the motto for initiating learners. You are outgoing, never hold anything back, and never refuse an opportunity.

Balancing

As the most adaptable and resourceful, balancing style learners find situational blind spots and mend fences.

Learning preferences help provide a framework of understanding for both yourself and those around you. Knowing your learning style and those of the people you work with enables improved interactions.

Experiential Learning and Information Retention

In 450 BCE, Confucius said, “I hear, and I forget, I see, and I remember, I do, and I understand.” And such became the basis of experiential learning. 

Those involved in experiential learning cooperatively engage in direct experiences tied to real-world issues. Experiential learners work not only with content, but with other learners and their instructors. Additionally, collaboration at each step allows learners to self–reflect and apply new knowledge to another situation.

Experiential learning presents alternative methods that incorporate more motivation and personal stakes than is generally presented through the traditional lecturing methods and reading from textbooks.

The Experiential Learning Cycle includes:

Exploration

Doing is the first phase of experiential learning. During this initial phase, students gain knowledge by:

  • Creating products, models, or presentations
  • Role-playing
  • Problem-solving
  • Game playing. 

While traditional learning values the quantity and quality of attained information, these activities allow learners to gain knowledge through experience.

Reflection

During this phase, students share their discovery results, reactions, and observations. Discussing what occurred allows you to ponder what you found out and connect to your past experiences for future use.

Analysis

After reflection, students describe and evaluate the initial experience through discussions on complications. Then, you inform others of both one-time and recurring obstacles you encountered and how you overcame those issues.

Generalization

At this point in the experiential learning cycle, learners find a way to connect their experience with the real world.

Application

Finally, learners take the information they acquired from the cycle and apply it to other situations. Using the knowledge in a different scenario allows you to take ownership of what you learned.

Experiential Learning Examples in Traditional Higher Education

To better connect with their students, educators in traditional classroom settings include experiential learning in various ways. They include:

  • Field trips
  • Hands-on creation, including art projects and science experiments
  • Reflection and journal writing
  • Internship opportunities

These experiences help students learn both more effectively and more enjoyably.

XR Learning 

XR learning is an alternate means of teaching. Instead of lecture halls, instructors transport students to physically inaccessible places through the use of three categories of technology:

  • VR for creating simulated environments.
  • AR for superimposing text, sounds, and other visuals into the real world.
  • MR merges physical and digital objects.

The lower-priced, self-paced, individualized format of XR learning allows institutions that use it to attract more students.

Experiential Learning at Edstutia

Edstutia’s 21st-century learning platform takes place at the intersection of business and technology. The Academic Advisory Board at Edstutia comprises professionals from a myriad of industries and sectors. It allows Edstutia to disrupt the current state of higher education by providing instruction on the basic skills needed for employment. 

The full-time program at Edstutia steers learners through modules purposely created to be speculative and personalized. From start to finish, each 10-week module guides students on a journey to land their dream job. 

Learners meet with their instructors for two hours a week and work on projects independently. These activities enable each module to end with a tangible deliverable students can show to potential employers as examples of their achievements and capabilities.

XR at Edstutia

From digital literacy to critical thinking, video sessions and virtual reality enhance the educational experience of both instructors and peers at Edstutia and help learners gain the concepts necessary to fill the over 6 million open positions available for employment. 

Edstutia’s online, modular learning platform gives students a place to learn without textbooks, exams, or grades.

The integrated virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) at Edstutia not only allows instructors to take the class outside the lecture hall, but it also enables learners to:

  • Meet classmates at a Starbucks in Shanghai to learn first-hand how to engage in a different culture. 
  • Explore the user experience in a video game in VR. 
  • Custom design AR areas to invite friends and family into the virtual world.
  • Present a data analysis project in 3D.  
  • Hang out with people from around the world at a virtual cafe on campus.

This technology enables all types of learners to enter the cycle at any stage and follow it through. Furthermore, the experiential learning at Edstutia allows those involved to explore their strengths when learning new things and play off of them while developing weaker areas. 

Edstutia’s use of XR not only enables continuous student learning, this technology also allows companies to upskill and reskill their employees quickly. Edstutia’s “learning by doing” program offers a greater ROI by enabling workers to immediately showcase and apply new skills through a tangible digital portfolio.

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