Tools for Engaging Online Learners with Experiential Learning

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High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs)

The term “High-Impact Educational Practices” (HIPs) was coined by George Kuh in 2008. HIPs are instructional approaches that can increase student retention and engagement and are defined as the following components of undergraduate education (Kuh, 2018 as cited in Linder & Hayes, 2018):

  1. first-year seminars and experiences
  2. common intellectual experiences
  3. learning communities (LCs)
  4. writing-intensive courses
  5. collaborative assignments and projects
  6. undergraduate research
  7. diversity and global learning
  8. service-learning and community-based learning
  9. internships
  10. capstone courses and projects
  11. ePortfolios (added in 2016)

Experiential Learning

Looking at Kuh’s list, many of the practices identified can be categorized as experiential learning, which in its simplest sense means “learning by doing”. It involves “engaging with the community, reflective thinking, and learning from experience” (Dewey, 1915 & 1933, as cited in Budhai & Skipwith, 2017).

Kolb's (1984) Experiential Learning Model
Figure 1: Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Model
Source: Budhai & Skipwith (2017)

In 1984, Kolb developed a four-stage experiential learning model which includes Concrete Experience,  Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation. Learners begin undergoing a new or familiar experience in a different way. Next, they review and reflect on their experience, then draw meaning and conclusions from their learning experience. Finally, they engage in active experimentation, applying what they have learned to a real-life situation. (Budhai & Skipwith, 2017).

Integrating Technology in Experiential Learning

With the landscape of education changing more and more towards a remote model, especially with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the role of technology in experiential learning has gained popularity and importance. There are many opportunities for us to leverage technology to make experiential learning even richer, especially in the context of online courses.

Vlogs, Virtual Blogs and Journals

Vlogs, virtual blogs, and online journals are multimedia tools that allow the learner to capture not only words but audio and video when relaying their thoughts. They can be used in the following ways in relation to experiential learning (Budhai & Skipwith, 2017):

  • Reflecting on the service experience (Service Learning)
  • Sharing their learning with peers and teachers (Internships, Practicums)
  • Documenting their experiences with visuals (Study Abroad)

Here are a few examples of free Vlog, blog and online journal tools:

Video Conferencing Tools

Video conferencing has been around for quite a while now but the popularity of conferencing tools like Zoom has skyrocketed during the global pandemic. More and more classes shifted to online, and video conferencing tools made it possible for students and instructors to interact in real-time remotely. Here are some uses of video conferencing tools in experiential learning (Budhai & Skipwith, 2017):

  • Continuity in course content delivery despite the learner’s distance or location
  • Providing learners with real-time feedback
  • Meetings with supervisors and practicum community organizations

In scheduling video conferences or online meetings, one of the biggest challenges is scheduling, especially when a large group of people is involved. For one-to-one scheduling, I have found Calendly to be highly efficient. It even allows for Zoom integrations so a Zoom conference link can be automatically embedded in the meeting invitation when a time slot is booked. For coordinating larger group meetings, Doodle is a tool that allows for the creation of a poll to identify a common timeslot for the group.

Examples of popular video conferencing and scheduling tools include:

References

  • Linder, K. E., & Hayes, C. M. (2018). High-impact practices in online education: Research and best practices. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
  • Budhai, S. S., & Skipwith, K. B. (2017). Best practices in engaging online learners through active and experiential learning strategies. Routledge.

2 thoughts on “Tools for Engaging Online Learners with Experiential Learning

  1. Karen says:

    Thanks for connecting the HIPS to experiential learning and for showcasing tools that are already in place, that can help support experiential learning. It seems like with experiential learning that it requires some foundational knowledge first to puzzle through, has that been your impression to?

    I’ve been thinking about your post and mine (active learning in asynchronous settings) and if some of the things you’ve mentioned would work for what I want to be able to do, but as I think about new content, I’m not sure experiential learning would help right away. What do you think?

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  2. K. Clum says:

    Thank you for bringing experiential learning to the forefront in this post, along with the reminder that “learning by doing” can still happen in remote learning contexts. It’s encouraging to note that online journals and video conferencing are easy ways to enact experiential learning without feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel, or find a new, flashy, tech tool to make something “experiential.”

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