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What is Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as "learning through reflection on doing".  Hands-on learning is a form of experiential learning but does not necessarily involve students reflecting on their product. 


Experiential learning is distinct from rote didactic learning, in which the learner plays a comparatively passive role. 

Experiential learning is often used synonymously with the term "experiential education", but while experiential education is a broader philosophy of education, experiential learning considers the individual learning process. 

As such, compared to experiential education, experiential learning is concerned with more concrete issues related to the learner and the learning context.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Why Experiential Learning?

  • Fosters Innovation and Creativity–New and unusual experiences wire our brains to think differently. They stimulate original thinking and trigger a broad range of thinking strategies which can’t be garnered from books or lectures.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 65% of today’s grade-school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet. Technology is eradicating many jobs causing employers to seek out creative and innovative individuals.

  • Learn From Mistakes–With hands-on learning, students learn from trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Instead of seeing a mistake as a failure, it can be viewed as an opportunity from which to learn and build upon.

  • Memorable Learning–Experiential learning is usually far more engaging, fun and memorable than sitting through a lecture and being in the same classroom day after day. These hands-on experiences in varied and interesting locations will be seared into the students’ brains for many years to come. This is the opposite from the brain dump that occurs after taking a test about information that seems irrelevant to the student. Much of what a student learns sitting in the classroom he sees as irrelevant. 

  • Increases Neural Connections–The coupling of theoretical learning with real hands-on learning increases connections between neurons. Making connections between things learned in academics and books and tying those in with real-world experiences and experiential learning increases connections and provides the learner with a fun and realistic learning environment!

  • Builds Collaboration and Teamwork Skills–When engaged with experiential learning, a student is often working with a partner or team. Not only does this mean working with different personalities and backgrounds but collaborating with students of various ages. This mirrors the real world working environment.

  • Builds Competence and Confidence-The process of discovery of knowledge and solutions builds competence and confidence.

  • Discipline Problems Less Likely-If students are more actively engaged in learning, they have a greater stake in the outcome of what they learn and are less likely to become discipline problems.

  • Enhanced Life Skills-Students can learn life skills that will be used over and over.

Learning Now and into the Future

The Future of Learning

Immersive Learning Center understands and believes that the future of learning will be grounded in the latest advances in technology. ​We are not alone in our thinking. On November 4, 2016, the Education Department announced a challenge to virtual reality experts and game developers to develop games and simulations that enhance student learning. (Education Department Launches Virtual Reality Challenge)

ILC has already made a commitment to this technology. Students can experience virtual reality in it's infancy right here. As more educational applications hit the marketplace, we will be right there doing our best along with your help to gain access for our community. 

Labster is one company that we are very excited about when it come to student learning using virtual reality. Labster has developed numerous life science labs in virtual reality in which students can conduct lab experiments using expensive equipment that they would not normally have access to.


Virtual reality is not a replacement for physical hands-on learning but it is a powerful tool that simulates working in a real lab which means students will retain more of what they learn and have a better understanding of the real world experience.

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