Growing Trends in Higher Education and How Experiential Learning Can Help

Growing Trends in Higher Education and How Experiential Learning Can Help

Higher education is undergoing major changes. With the post pandemic, the growth of AI and machine learning, and an ever-changing social and political climate, students have different expectations and needs than just three years ago.

As educators, it’s important to be aware of these trends to provide the best opportunities and achieve optimal outcomes for our students. It’s also essential to know why these trends occur and how to tap into them.

Thankfully, this article is here to help you! Below, we’ll discuss some growing trends in higher education, what they mean for students and educators in colleges and universities, and how you can use a modern technique known as experiential learning to stay ahead of the game.

How is higher education and learning changing?

With technological advancements, societal changes, and the growing number of student enrolments, the higher education sector—and the way we teach—is changing significantly.

What we once saw as a privilege is now necessary for success in today’s economy. As such, higher education institutions such as colleges and universities are responsible for teaching more than industry-specific knowledge—they must also focus on equipping students with 21st-century skills like critical thinking, learning agility, and information literacy.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve also seen a major shift towards online and blended education. These options offer more flexibility for students but require specific steps to ensure students remain engaged with class content, transforming higher education overall.

active learning higher education classroom

What are current issues in higher education?

As we’ve collectively moved towards an online or blended learning environment, many institutions – including universities and educators – have identified several issues and barriers impacting student outcomes.

According to a 2018 study published in Computers in Human Behaviour, modern universities turn towards a student-centric approach. This approach focuses on understanding student learning experiences more deeply, which stems from a lack of personalisation in traditional university and college education settings.

A 2019 study by the University of Wollongong also found that students face social, cultural, and economic factors influencing their ability to succeed in education.

These issues and barriers point to a common solution—higher education needs to focus on students as individuals, tailoring learning experiences to their personal, social, emotional, and cultural needs. According to a 2020 study, educators should also focus on relevant material and active student participation to achieve optimal outcomes in the current higher education landscape.

What are the growing trends in higher education?

Now, let’s dive into some rapidly growing higher education trends and discuss why you might choose to implement them in your classroom.

  1. Flexible and online learning

Flexible and online learning is an educational model that enables students to learn without being tied to a specific time or place. This model saw exceptional growth over the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to rise in popularity.

You can deliver this type of education in many ways, including asynchronous and synchronous methods. The asynchronous approach is the most common, where students have no set schedule for completing their work. They can study at their own pace while managing outside commitments. This is not limited to just online courses or online degrees.

Synchronous learning requires students to log on and participate in an online teaching class at a set time. This approach is great for enabling students to collaborate in real-time, but it is less flexible.

Flexible and online learning is beneficial because it is accessible for all learners, including international students, and can reduce university and college costs for low income students or those who can’t afford traditional schooling and lower their student debt.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


  1. Active learning

Active learning is a teaching technique focusing on a student’s active participation in the lesson. It involves providing students with opportunities to independently answer questions and solve problems, rather than passively listening to a teacher.

Active learning is effective in improving student outcomes across many subjects. Among other benefits, it helps students retain information, achieve better results, and stay engaged with classroom content, aiding student success overall.

  1. Formative assessments

A formative assessment intends to evaluate a student’s understanding of a given topic and provide feedback. Quizzes, tests, and homework questions are common approaches you can use.

Formative assessment aims to identify what students know, what they don’t know, and what they might need extra support with. Teachers can use this information to readjust their curriculum plan or educational approach to suit each student’s needs and benefit student success.

  1. AI for learning

AI has developed in leaps and bounds over the past few years—so much so that it’s now a fantastic way to enhance learning outcomes in higher education.

Some common ways to apply AI in learning include:

  • Autonomous learning through chatbots and similar tools,
  • Providing personalised and structured feedback,
  • Delivering adaptive learning experiences,
  • Personal learning assistants,
  • Automatically adjusting difficulty based on individual student progress.

By working in tandem with AI tools, educators can better understand their student’s needs and access evidence-based suggestions.

  1. VR experiences

Virtual Reality or VR is a technology designed to create immersive experiences. Many industries have adopted it to engage and entertain users, and education is no exception!

In higher education settings, educators can use VR to provide students with interactive experiences where they can explore different environments and learn more about the world around them. It’s also great for training simulations in healthcare, aviation, military, and construction.

active learning higher education vr learning

  1. Upskilling and skill credentialing

More than ever before, higher education institutions need to prepare students for success after they finish their university or college degree. With current trends and growing demand for job opportunities, this means graduates need specific skills and knowledge to reliably find work in the job market.

Upskilling is a career development process that helps students develop and improve skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce. Similarly, skill credentialing involves certifying skills for specific industry roles.

Many colleges and universities are now offering certification programs to help students acquire these qualifications and become highly employable whilst also remain relevant.

  1. Coaching to help students

Coaching is a fantastic way to provide more students with one-on-one support in areas they need extra help. Coaches may be professionals employed by a university or more experienced students acting as mentors.

Coaching programs can help students reach their academic goals by providing a personalised and comprehensive support system. These programs can also allow university and college students to develop job-ready skills like time management, goal setting, and leadership.

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is a process in which learners are actively engaged in meaningful, often hands-on experiences. Based on research, students learn best when involved in authentic activities and solving real-world problems.

The approach stems from educational theorist David A. Kolb’s experiential learning model, which he represented as a four-stage learning cycle:

1. Active experimentation

2. Concrete experience

3. Reflective observation

4. Abstract conceptualisation

Kolb and other educational leaders point out that effective learning occurs when a student progresses through each cycle stage.

There are many ways to deliver experiential learning in higher education settings, including:

  • Excursions and field exercises
  • Hands-on experiments
  • Internships and work placements
  • Study abroad experiences
  • Practicums

Your methods to deliver experiential learning will depend on your goals, available resources, and each student’s learning style.

How can experiential learning help?

Experiential learning is a pivotal way to meet these growing trends in higher education, whether it be private colleges, community colleges, public universities, or private institutions. Let’s discuss a few reasons why.

Flexible, personalised learning

Two key aspects of experiential learning in colleges and universities focus on providing flexible and personalised learning experiences. Students can choose topics or subjects they’re interested in and want to learn about, and teachers can tailor activities and lessons to suit each individual’s needs. This also allows for competency based education which is important with current trends such as self-paced learning, mental health challenges, college closures, and other barriers formed by the pandemic.

Experiential learning also offers:

  • Learning opportunities relevant to student goals,
  • Culturally diverse and inclusive experiences,
  • Both on-campus and online education opportunities.

Industry experience and upskilling

Work-integrated learning is a branch of experiential education perfectly suited for upskilling and building industry knowledge. This ties into the ‘concrete experience’ section of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle.

Students can get a headstart and develop skills sought after by employers through highly relevant activities like volunteering opportunities, work placements, and internships. These experiences also provide opportunities for students to meet and form lasting connections with industry and university leaders.

Real-time coaching and feedback

The second step of Kolb’s learning cycle is ‘reflective observation’, which involves learners reflecting on their experiences and identifying gaps between experience and understanding.

Teachers and industry leaders can assist in this stage by offering real-time feedback and coaching, helping students continue to move in the right direction. For example, during a month-long internship, students, educators, and employers could set up a weekly Zoom meeting to discuss the student’s progress and address any questions or concerns.

active learning higher education coaching and feedback

What is the future of higher education?

Our expectations for the future of higher education are constantly evolving with an uncertain future. While we can’t predict changes with absolute certainty, we can make some informed conceptions with current global trends and education statistics.

The future of higher education is likely to be driven by technology—especially AI and machine learning. It will be more personalised and adaptive, with students learning at their own pace and avoiding the constraints and restrictions of a traditional college curriculum as we are seeing more nontraditional students enter the university system.

As higher ed institutions and universities continue to change and new education providers emerge, a 2020 article published in the New York Times identified several future trends for higher education. This includes lifelong transcripts for students, AI-based teaching assistants, and virtual reality. These trends all fall under the umbrella of experiential education.

How Practera can help

If you’re ready to jump on these higher education trends and deliver impactful experiential learning experiences to your prospective students, Practera is here to help.

Our fast-growing experiential education technology offers higher ed educators tools to keep up with trends, grow industry engagement, enhance graduate employability, and reduce delivery costs.

Using the software, you can deliver trending learning experiences like team projects, internships, simulations, and international experiences. Delivery is simple and easy thanks to the platform’s many helpful features, which include:

  • Custom experiences and workflows,
  • An extensive template library,
  • AI tools,
  • In-depth analytics,
  • Chat-based collaboration tools,
  • Detailed progress and performance tracking for formative assessment.

To get started, connect with the Practera team for a discussion or download our white paper to find out more.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


Microlearning: The Key To Student Engagement

Microlearning: The Key To Student Engagement

Traditional university classes and lectures can last for hours, with student interest and retention waning as time goes on. How can we help these learners stay focused?

Microlearning is the solution. This approach is gaining traction in higher education institutions worldwide thanks to its flexibility, affordability, and fantastic benefits for students.

This article will dive deeper into what microlearning is, how it works, and how you can deliver the experience to your students.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning—also known as microtraining in workplace settings—is a learning method involving short, frequent interactions. Today’s learning institutions increasingly use the approach combined with technology-assisted and mobile learning.

A microlearning course aims to provide learners with bite-sized pieces of content that are easy to consume and comprehend. This model stems from psychological research suggesting that grouping content into small, meaningful groups (known as chunking) improves learning and recall.

Microlearning courses typically last three to five minutes and focus on skill development regarding a single topic. Some common microlearning examples include:

  • Reading a short paragraph,
  • Writing a short poem,
  • Answering rapid-fire quiz questions,
  • Viewing flashcards,
  • Reading social posts on mobile devices,
  • Watching short microlearning videos.

Microlearning content is especially beneficial to students who struggle with distractions or lose focus during long teaching sessions. A short and snappy approach helps these learners stay on track and more easily retain information.

When applying microlearning, educators can adapt each small learning unit to learners’ individual ability levels, allowing them to work at their own pace. This is one of the approach’s major benefits.

Microlearning with flashcards

Why is microlearning important?

Through influences like social media and the broader internet, today’s learners have grown accustomed to consuming short bursts of information. Microlearning is an effective way to tap into this change and keep modern students focused and engaged.

According to a 2021 study published in the Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, microlearning inspired significant increases in learner satisfaction, engagement, and performance.

The study also highlights the barriers learners face in today’s ‘massified’ higher education environment and how microlearning aims to bridge this gap.

The benefits of microlearning for students

Microlearning offers students an enormous range of benefits, from keeping them engaged to encouraging self-paced learning. We’ll go into detail about some key advantages now.

Increases engagement

Student engagement can be intrinsic or extrinsic. We can further divide these classes into four categories: cognitive, emotional, volitional, and physical. Let’s break down these categories now.

Cognitive

Definition: Describes a student’s mental load and dedication to the current subject matter.

Microlearning outcome: The student easily dedicates mental energy to the short task without feeling drained.

Emotional

Definition: Describes how the student connects to and how they feel about a subject matter.

Microlearning outcome: The student feels strongly connected to the meaningful topic.

Volitional

Definition: Describes a student’s motivation for learning about a subject matter.

Microlearning outcome: The student is motivated to learn about a subject relevant to their interests and skills.

Physical

Definition: Describes a student’s physical participation in the activity and how this enhances the cognitive and emotional aspects of their learning.

Microlearning outcome: The student easily stays on-task and physically focused over the short period.

Microlearning must take a broad-spectrum approach, tapping into each category for microlearning to work effectively. The method works especially well in combination with other teaching approaches like project-based and experiential learning.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Improves knowledge retention

One major benefit of microlearning is its ability to significantly improve knowledge retention. There are a few reasons why the method works so well.

Firstly, breaking lessons down into bite-sized courses prevents cognitive fatigue—a type of exhaustion or tiredness that develops when a student’s mental energy wanes. Mental fatigue can prevent knowledge from passing from short-term into long-term memory, so the student absorbs less information.

With microlearning, students have time to stop and process information before moving to the next task, easing mental load and promoting stronger knowledge retention.

Microlearning also improves retention through spaced repetition—an evidence-based technique based on research showing that our brains retain information more easily when introducing intervals between study sessions.  

We can tap into this technique and boost retention by presenting information in small bits with gaps in-between.

Supports self-paced learning

All students have unique individual learning styles and study preferences. Because of microlearning’s flexible nature and low time commitment, the approach facilities self-guided and self-paced learning.

This way, learners can spend more time on subjects they struggle with while breezing through those they excel in.

Personalises learning experiences

According to a 2014 Taylor & Francis study, personalised or differentiated teaching is key for keeping students engaged. It’s all about tailoring learning experiences to individual student learning styles.

Because there are so many ways to implement microlearning experiences in the classroom, it’s easy to create personalised experiences for each learner.

Let’s use educational theorist David Kolb’s learning style model to form an example. A student with a Converging learning style, which focuses on abstract and interactive problem-solving, would benefit from quick, gamified learning tasks like maths quizzes or educational games.

Personalised microlearning

Makes learning flexible and accessible

Today’s students are busier than ever, taking on multiple responsibilities, including travel, work, and family commitments. Microlearning makes it easy for these learners to manage their time effectively.

Because microlearning is also easy to deliver online, it’s more accessible than traditional in-person training or on-campus education. Students can access lessons from home and complete them at any time, working smoothly around their busy schedules.

Saves time and boosts productivity

Because of microlearning’s minimal time commitment, it’s a fantastic way to boost productivity for teachers and students alike. Quick-fire teaching techniques can be just as effective as hour-long lectures or lessons—without the enormous time and resource commitment.

Is microlearning effective?

So, we understand the benefits of microlearning, but is it effective in real-world settings?

Well, according to a recent review by Federation University and Deakin University, the answer is a resounding yes!

The review, which reflected on microlearning research across six educational databases, found that microlearning is beneficial for objective and subjective student outcomes. The approach improved academic performance, participation, learning motivation, and student experience.

A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Education Research Review supports this suggestion. Among a class of Information Technology students, microlearning significantly improved engagement and long-term memory retention.

Microlearning has also found success in the workplace as an increasingly popular corporate training approach. Exposing students to the approach now will prepare graduates for similar learning experiences in the working world.

How to implement microlearning in a higher education setting

Microlearning is beneficial and easy to implement across degree specialisations. Here are some effective ideas to use in your classroom.

Gamified learning

Gamified learning is an instructional strategy that uses game mechanics and design principles to make learning more engaging and fun. Educators can apply the approach in many ways, including:

  • Rewarding points and badges for completing tasks,
  • Creating questions and missions for students to complete,
  • Using interactive educational games.

Many games are fast-paced and engaging, making them a great method for delivering microlearning experiences.

Infographics

An infographic is a visual representation of information, including images, charts, and diagrams. They’re a fantastic tool for presenting complex information in a compact and easily digestible format.

Infographics are great for microlearning because students can scan over the graphic in minutes, absorbing vital information such as dates and statistics. The approach is especially effective for visual learners.

Social media

Naturally, social media and microlearning go hand in hand. From Twitter’s 280-character post limit to TikTok’s focus on short-form video content, the social sphere is about sharing information in quick bites.

Social media, then, is a great way to connect with students on a level they understand—tying into their intrinsic motivation. For example, YouTube is great for curating and creating video content to share with students, while TED-Ed is ideal for sharing short, animated lessons.

Social media is also amazing for—you guessed it—being social! It’s a powerful tool for keeping students connected and encouraging short, focused contributions.

Of course, it’s essential to ensure these social microlearning experiences integrate well with your class’s current learning objectives and work towards a specific learning outcome. The content you share should clearly relate to class content, have real-world relevance, and hold genuine meaning for each student.

Implementing microlearning

Challenges of microlearning

A recent study by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, proposed a microlearning model designed to enhance and sustain student motivation and engagement. Researchers based the model on the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of motivation, which suggests people are motivated to grow through certain innate needs.

According to the SDT, the three core needs for enhancing motivation are competence, relatedness, and autonomy. To build an effective microlearning strategy, educators must ensure these three needs are met.

The simplest way to achieve this goal is to collaborate with students on microlearning activities, allowing them to guide their own experiences. This way, students can select topics and enjoy learning skills relevant to their interests.

How Practera can help

Practera’s innovative experiential learning platform makes delivering effective microlearning activities easier than ever.

Practera supports microlearning experiences through its powerful digital tools, including chat-based collaboration software, quick content authoring, and gamification features. With so many options, it’s easy to mix and match activities that tie into every student’s unique learning style.

You can further personalise each student’s experience with our custom workflow tools and adaptive learning paths—and keep them informed and engaged with our mobile app’s push notification features.

To get started with Practera, start a conversation with our team today or download our comprehensive white paper to find out more.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


The Value of Active Learning: Higher Education

The Value of Active Learning: Higher Education

Students who are active and engaged in class are more likely to excel academically—and find work after graduation. They also form stronger bonds with teachers and peers and retain more knowledge.

As educators, how can we maintain participation and engagement across diverse learners?

Active learning is one powerful solution. This strategy gets students from all backgrounds thinking critically, collaborating, and learning about meaningful real-world topics.

This article will discuss active learning and why it’s so beneficial. We’ll then offer some strategies you can use to apply the approach effectively in your classroom.

What is the active learning process?

Active learning is a teaching technique that engages students in the learning process, involving them in solving problems and generating knowledge. It is widely used in primary, secondary, and higher education because of its effectiveness compared to traditional methods like lecture-based instruction.

Through active learning, higher education institutions aim to engage learners in acquiring knowledge rather than presenting them with information. This approach benefits both teachers and learners because it fosters increased understanding and retention of class topics and materials whilst allowing students to generate new ideas and apply knowledge during class time.

Creating excitement about active learning approaches is easy through activities like:

An important element of active learning activities is collaboration and involving students working together to explore and review topics. This process can be a comprehensive measure to help students identify their own knowledge gaps and build critical interpersonal skills necessary for success after graduation.

active learning in higher education

What are the key principles of active learning?

There are no set guidelines for active learning, but we can identify some key principles that will help you get the most out of this approach.

Meaning and relevance: The educational content must hold some personal meaning for each student and be relevant to real-world scenarios and complexities.

Groupwork: Generally, students will work as a group to negotiate goals, identify knowledge gaps, and evaluate content.

Critical reflection and analysis: Students will critically evaluate their approach to understanding the topic and look for possible gaps. They will also analyse and reflect on the meaning of their learning.

Engaging content: The content must be engaging and interesting to each student. Meaningful, timely, and relevant content is generally more engaging, especially when students can explore the information in their own learning style.

What is active learning in higher education?

Active learning activities in higher education are similar to those in other educational settings, although outcomes are more job-focused. The general goal is to instil crucial 21st-century skills like active learning and participation, differing greatly from traditional lecturing.

Class discussions are a common form of active learning used in universities and higher education institutions around the globe. The Socratic Method is a popular approach that involves a teacher asking probing questions to stimulate deeper thinking and require students to draw out ideas.

A teacher might ask questions like:

  • What do we already know about this subject?
  • What assumptions have we made?
  • Why did we come to this particular conclusion?
  • What would be a relevant example?
  • What would be an alternative option?

These questions encourage students explorations to use higher order thinking skills and engage actively in classroom discussions.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Why is active learning important?

Active learning is important for several reasons. While it can help prepare graduates for the workplace and achieve learning outcomes, it’s also a crucial skill for understanding broader aspects of society.

According to a 2017 study published in Creative Education, active learning can also help students retain and understand class content. The study also found the approach fosters a more positive learning environment, promotes open-mindedness, enhances communication skills, and encourages participation.

We’ll dive further into the endless benefits of an active learning classroom in the next section of this article.

The benefits of active learning in higher education

Active learning approaches offer a host of benefits for university students, especially through dedicated teacher education. These benefits will improve a student’s learning experience and provide them with invaluable skills for success in work and later life.

Improve engagement

One of the key goals of active learning approaches is to create more engaged learners. With this approach, students no longer learn passively through observation. Instead, they think actively about a topic relevant to their interests and get deeply involved in relevant, real-world discussions.

According to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Mathematical Education and Technology, active learning successfully increased the average results and passing rates of a group of algebra and business calculus students. The paper attributed this success to increased student engagement.

Build knowledge through experience

We can consider active learning a branch of experiential learning—an instructional pedagogy focusing on building knowledge through experience. The approach typically involves students engaging in research, analysis, and reflection in a meaningful, real-world setting.

Active and experiential learning go hand-in-hand. For the experiential learning approach to succeed, all the students must be actively involved in exploring and understanding course content.

Role-playing is a great example of the power of active, experiential learning. It facilitates learning real-world skills like teamwork and negotiation while providing opportunities for teaching critical reflection and observation.

Collaboration

Collaboration is a key aspect of active learning and a powerful tool for boosting motivation, engagement, and educational outcomes. When students work together with peers or under peer instruction to understand a topic, they can share perspectives and ideas to gain deeper insights.

Collaborative active learning can also come in the form of class discussions, where teachers and students explore a topic together through probing and clarifying questions, or even tutoring peers.

According to a 2011 study published in Procedia’s Social and Behavioural Sciences, significant social, psychological, and academic benefits occur when students learn actively. These benefits include:

  • Students gain improved critical thinking skills,
  • A strong social support system for learners,
  • A deeper understanding and diversity among staff and students,
  • Better classroom results,
  • Students achieve active involvement.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills help students make informed decisions and solve problems logically. The skill is all about assessing information independently, weighing evidence, reasoning, and making sound judgments—all of which are crucial elements in active learning.

As educators, we can foster these thinking skills in students by asking questions that reinforce conceptual understanding and encourage reasoning. Some effective methods include running interactive group discussion sessions, hosting debates, and performing brainstorming exercises.

Creativity and innovation

A student’s creativity stems from their ability to ask questions about the world around them and explore unique perspectives. Active learning encourages these behaviours, making it the perfect conduit for creating and innovating.

The best way to build creativity and innovation within your students is to encourage independent thinking and risk-taking. Invite your students to explore uncharted possibilities and tackle questions from unusual angles—even if they seem ludicrous!

active learning in higher education

Best active learning strategies for higher education

There are seemingly unlimited ways to implement active learning strategies in the classroom. To simplify things, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Focus on feedback and reflection

Unlike passive learning, active learning is most effective when it involves detailed reflection, analysis, and feedback. Ideally, this feedback will come from multiple sources—the students themselves, peers, and educators.

In an active learning environment, feedback is constant and immediate, helping students learn and better understand course material and correct misconceptions. Feedback can also help teachers with formative assessment and determine a learner’s level of understanding and plan steps to help them achieve their desired outcomes or goals.

Facilitate discussion and participation

Class discussions are one of the most effective ways to implement active learning in higher education. Regular interaction and discussing ideas with teachers and peers fosters a sense of classroom community, which can increase engagement and motivation. This is unlike passive learning where ideas are internalised.

Use gamified learning techniques

Gamified learning is an instructional strategy that uses game-like elements in teaching and training. These teaching approaches motivate students to learn, stay engaged, and retain information more effectively.

Gamification can create learners’ more active and engaging experience through features like points, levels, leaderboards, rewards, and badges. Gamified systems, such as educational quiz apps, reward desired behaviours with this type of feedback.

You can gamify your university classroom by:

  • Playing digital quizzes and games like Quizlet or Kahoot!,
  • Creating adventure quests and missions,
  • Playing or designing educational board games,
  • Adapting traditional games like bingo or scavenger hunts for classroom use.

Remember—the rewards your students receive should be relevant to their personality and interests for maximum engagement. Some students may like to collect badges, while others might feel driven by the race to the top of a leaderboard.

active learning in higher education

Challenges and barriers to active learning

While active learning’s effectiveness has been proven repeatedly, some barriers can prevent university educators from achieving optimal outcomes.

According to a 2010 study published in College Teaching, the barriers university teachers face in delivering active learning fall under three categories:

Pedagogical issues

These issues can include problems with identifying students’ unique learning styles, fostering motivation and self-esteem, and managing large classes.

Issues directly impacting faculty members

Educator-centric problems include lack of time and resources, coming up with varied ideas, and taking risks.

Student characteristics

Some students may have behaviour problems or cognitive differences that can affect the delivery and outcome of active learning experiences.

Since the benefits of active learning outweigh the challenges, it’s worth taking steps to overcome these obstacles. According to the College Teaching study, educators can tackle these challenges through a student-focused approach, experimentation, and determination.

How Practera can help

Practera’s experiential learning platform makes delivering winning active learning experiences easier than ever. The platform provides many useful tools to help university educators create powerful custom learning pathways and activities.

Practera can help with active learning delivery through its intelligent analytics and collaboration tools. Using the software, you can access real-time insights about student performance, track progress, and share 360-degree feedback from a single pane.

The platform also has a built-in user activity tracker, and a pulse check feature, allowing you to easily follow and manage student engagement and participation.

To get started with Practera, start a conversation with a member of our friendly team today—or download our detailed white paper to find out more about what the platform can do for you.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


 

Why Hybrid Learning is the Future for Higher Education Students and Experiential Learning

Why Hybrid Learning is the Future for Higher Education Students and Experiential Learning

Over the past few years, the way we think about work and learning has changed. Changing attitudes have made in-person work and learning less critical and online alternatives significantly more widespread.

While digital learning is powerful and convenient, in-person education still has invaluable benefits. Some skills and knowledge points are still best learned through a hands-on approach.

That’s why today’s higher education institutions need to combine the best of both worlds by adopting the hybrid learning model. Keep reading to learn more about this innovative educational method and how it can power up your organisation’s experiential learning delivery.

What is a hybrid learning approach?

Hybrid learning is an educational approach that combines in-person and virtual learning. For learners, it offers hands-on experience coupled with the convenience and accessibility of online courses.

The key element of hybrid learning is flexibility. Students have the power to balance online and in-person education to suit their needs and lifestyle—a feature that’s especially beneficial for a modern day student juggling multiple commitments, those who work full-time, or distance learners. Some learners also benefit significantly from simply working at their own pace.

In a hybrid learning environment, students can engage with class content in numerous ways. For example, they could attend in-person lectures on their days off from work and review digitised recordings on workdays.

Among other benefits, hybrid learning offers freedom of choice for students. It also allows for more efficient resource use and smoother communication for educators and educational institutions.

Hybrid learning in higher education

What is the difference between hybrid and blended learning?

The key differentiator between blended and hybrid learning is the relationship between in-person and online experiences.

In a blended learning environment, online learning complements in-person classes. Additional resources like videos, articles, and podcasts enhance in-person lessons and create an enriched learning experience.

On the other hand, online learning is an alternative to in-person classes in a hybrid learning environment. Material is shared asynchronously as part of an overarching lesson plan, and students are free to choose how they interact with the lesson. In this way, hybrid learning creates a powerful and flexible learning experience.

Why hybrid learning is the future for higher education students

Now, let’s discuss why hybrid learning is critical for building a positive future for higher education students and enhancing employability.

Flexible learning

The traditional university model isn’t ideal for all learners. Some students cannot attend every class because of work schedules, children, or other life commitments. 

As such, flexibility in learning is crucial for universities hoping to provide a more open and accessible service for students.

Hybrid learning makes education flexible because students can study in a way that suits them without choosing between online and in-person learning. Students can reap the immense benefits of hands-on and experiential learning without compromising their time.

Efficient resource use

One of the biggest benefits of hybrid learning is that it allows for more efficient use of teaching resources

Traditionally, educational institutions would need to offer multiple class streams and schedules to cater to student needs. Today, however, students who cannot meet specific schedules can keep up with coursework in the digital space.

Digitisation also reduces the need for expensive physical teaching materials like textbooks, saving money for students, educators, and institutions.

Independent academic exploration

Traditionally, learning is a process guided largely by teachers. However, with the introduction of the internet and digital tools, students have become increasingly reliant on their own research.

Hybrid learning takes a balanced approach to this problem by allowing students more independence while providing as-needed guidance. Students can explore topics in their own time, build confidence, and access help and support from educators and peers.

Time management

As we touched on above, hybrid courses are particularly beneficial for students who work full-time or have otherwise busy lives. Among other advantages, they won’t need to commute to campus each day and can follow their own study schedule, be it early mornings, late nights, or weekend work.

The hybrid learning process also allows online and in-person students on different time schedules to connect and communicate in a way they wouldn’t be able to with traditional education.

Affordability

Hybrid learning makes higher education more accessible to low-income families or students who cannot afford the high tuition fees of traditional classrooms. There’s also a lower need to invest in expensive supplies like textbooks, workbooks, equipment, and stationery.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


How hybrid learning unlocks experiential learning opportunities

Hybrid learning is also a fantastic way to unlock experiential learning opportunities for students, especially now that we’re moving towards hybrid workplace arrangements.

Here are some key ways hybrid education drives high-quality experiential learning.

Diverse learning experiences

While the hybrid educational model has been around for decades, it’s only recently gained traction in the higher education industry. We can say the same for experiential learning.

Why?

Because today’s students demand more varied and engaging learning experiences. 

This demand stems from our increasingly technology-driven society and hybrid work culture, where employees must seamlessly slip from digital to in-person work and communication at any time.

In a hybrid learning environment, students can engage with class content in various ways. There’s really no limit! Attending lectures, taking online quizzes, and participating in interactive activities boost student engagement and create more agile learners.

By combining lecture-based, experiential, and online education, students can explore limitless options and discover the type of learning unique to their needs.

Diverse learning experiences with hybrid learning

Accessible learning resources

As education leans towards a hybrid nature, students will learn from various resources, not just books and lectures.

We mentioned above that textbooks and other educational materials can be expensive for students, so being able to access these texts digitally is a huge bonus. In the same way, students without reliable internet access at home can continue to learn in a traditional classroom environment—it’s all about what suits the student best.

Experiential education can continue from the classroom into the digital space, too. One example is using virtual reality to explore new environments and historical events. Another example is an interactive science or maths simulation, where students can experiment with different variables and outcomes in a realistic way.

Supportive and collaborative learning environment

Educators strongly encourage students to collaborate with classmates, discuss, and share ideas in an experiential learning environment. These communications can happen in a classroom, in out-of-class meetings, or via online chat and video call tools.

The hybrid model allows students to continue working as a group even if they live far from each other or follow different schedules. It also allows students to touch base with educators without disrupting their project’s flow.

As hybrid learning combines online educational materials like quizzes, live chats, and digital meetings with in-person discussions, learners, stay motivated, remain engaged, and won’t fall behind their peers if their schedules differ.

Focus on real-world experience

In traditional classroom learning, students take notes in lectures and tutorials, enjoying limited opportunities for hands-on experience.

In contrast, experiential learning is about making lessons come alive and allowing students to explore their interests through meaningful, relevant activities.

While ‘hands-on’ experiences are not possible with hybrid learning, digital activities can still have meaningful and genuine impacts. The hybrid learning experience is also strongly applicable to how work is done in the real world.

For example, a project could begin with an in-person group session where students meet and share initial ideas. From there, students can conduct additional research, browse online resources, and use multimedia to create presentations and reports. Students can also collaborate, critique, and evaluate each other’s work through digital tools and forums.

Building a hybrid experiential learning environment

If you’re ready to create a hybrid experiential learning environment in your classroom or institution, here are some tips and ideas to help you get started.

1. Include social and collaborative experiences in the classroom, such as group work and project-based learning. Extend these experiences into the online space through digital meetings and collaborative chat tools.

2. Use on-campus resources to supplement classroom learning, such as the science lab or art gallery.

3. Integrate technology into the classroom through interactive whiteboards or laptops with internet access for students to use at their desks.

4. Offer virtual, digital, and in-person experiential learning activities. For example, students could meet in person to devise a business plan and continue to work on the plan through online meetings.

The most important thing is to create an environment where students are involved and engaged. They should be able to see, feel, touch, or interact with the materials as they learn—even sensory experiences in virtual learning spaces are beneficial.

In hybrid experiential learning spaces, students can work on a project in person, virtually, or by supplementing in-person work with online research and investigation.

Experiential learning in higher education - student

Why hybrid learning is here to stay

According to a 2021 ‘Future of School’ report published by AT&T, 94% of teachers believe hybrid learning—when the proper resources and supports are available—is here to stay. Among other benefits, the approach:

  • Provides students with the opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere,
  • Offers more flexible teaching arrangements for educators,
  • Is more accessible and affordable than traditional education,
  • Allows learners to move at their own pace,
  • Facilitates group work and collaboration,
  • Prepares graduates for the ever-growing hybrid workforce.

As we move toward more work-from-home and hybrid working opportunities, demand for hybrid learning experiences will soar. Delivering these experiences to students now will give them a head start in the versatile workplaces of the future.

How Practera can help

Practera makes delivering high-quality experiential and hybrid learning opportunities easier than ever. Using the platform’s range of innovative tools, you can plan, prepare, and launch projects from a single pane.

Some unique features you’ll benefit from include the in-built AI experiential learning assistant, ELSA, that provides real-time suggestions and evidence-based advice to improve your hybrid and experiential learning delivery. 

The platform also features detailed progress and performance tracking, grading rubrics, and activity trackers to help you monitor student performance. Connecting in-person and online experiences is easier, too, with Practera’s mobile responsive progressive web app, Zoom integration, and chat-based collaboration tools.

To get started with streamlined hybrid and experiential learning, get in touch with the Practera team or download our comprehensive white paper today.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


 

Enhance Research Projects for Students with Experiential Learning

Enhance Research Projects for Students with Experiential Learning

Helping students better retain and understand the information they teach is an integral part of being an educator. In higher education settings, teachers are constantly striving to improve educational and employment outcomes for their students—but what approach actually works?

Well, according to the latest research, experiential learning is one of the most powerful ways to enhance project processes and guarantee better outcomes. 

In this article, we’ll go into depth about the experiential learning method and why it is becoming increasingly popular in higher education institutions around Australia and the globe.

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is a teaching method where students learn through experience. Educational theorist David A. Kolb first described the model in the 1970s, drawing inspiration from other theorists like Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, and John Dewey.

While the experiential learning approach has been used in schools for decades, it’s more recently become popular and prevalent in universities around Australia.

The goal of experiential learning is to provide students with the opportunity to explore, experiment, and discover the world around them. The approach is also student-driven, meaning it focuses on a student’s unique skills and topics they are interested in.

Importantly, experiential learning also requires reflection, where students look back upon and analyse what they have learned and performed.

Let’s make things clearer with an example.

Imagine you’re teaching an agriculture class. You could tell your students about how farming works, the techniques farmers use, and so on… but what if your students actually visited a farm? What if they directly interacted with the animals, tools, and equipment, cleaning sheds and preparing feed? They’d likely absorb the information much better and feel more prepared for their future career.

Some other examples of experiential learning include:

  • Work-integrated learning, i.e. internships, job placements
  • Project-based learning, i.e. team events and scientific research
  • Practicums or practical lessons
  • Excursions and incursions
  • Study abroad experiences
  • Certificate programs
  • International student placements

You can apply the experiential learning approach to any project, regardless of the subjects you teach. Among other benefits, it’s a powerful way to prepare your students for entering the working world.

Experiential learning within group projects

How experiential learning helps with research projects for students

Incorporating an experiential learning approach into your students’ research projects has an enormous number of benefits. Let’s discuss a few of them now.

Facilitates real-world experience

Through experiential learning, your students can integrate academic theory and apply their knowledge through direct experience in a real-world scenario. 

The idea behind this approach is that by combining academic theory with practical application, students will be better prepared for life after graduation. They’ll also feel more confident in their abilities and likely to tackle life’s challenges head-on.

Accelerates learning

Experiential learning takes the traditional learning speed and turns it up a notch (or ten!). When students create work that’s personally meaningful to them, they’re likely to absorb information faster and achieve their set educational outcomes at a faster rate.

Integrates theory and practice

One of the main benefits of experiential learning is the integration of theory and practice. In other words, students can apply their learning to real-world scenarios, helping them understand why their work matters.

Take algebra, for example. Many students can learn and memorise formulas well, but struggle to understand why algebra matters and how they might use it in their daily lives. This view causes some students to feel less engaged with the subject matter.

One way to combat this is to use experiential learning to demonstrate to students how algebra applies to real life. For example, programming and web design students could research how linear algebra is used to create search engine ranking algorithms and create their own code using the appropriate formulas.


Submit your project to Practera and receive back a market research report with recommendations to inform your business needs


Boosts engagement

Drawing from the above point, when students understand why and how their learning matters, they become more engaged with the content. They start to see themselves as agents in their own education with real control over their learning paths and employment outcomes.

Additionally, research projects can be long and drawn out, making it difficult for some students to stay engaged across the course of the research project. Experiential learning can keep things interesting by offering varied, intense experiences that constantly offer new opportunities and challenges.

Encourages feedback and reflection

One of the key parts of experiential learning is its focus on critical reflection. When it comes to research projects, analysing findings is critical, helping students understand what they have learned and how well they have performed.

Reflecting on their learning in this way helps students independently identify areas of improvement and highlight potential skill gaps. Educators and students can then work together to fill these gaps before the student graduates.

Fosters a collaborative environment

Many experiential learning activities are group-based, with students interacting with their peers, educators, and industry leaders to achieve a goal. These interactions could include:

  • Interviewing subject-matter experts (SMEs) to learn more about a topic,
  • Volunteering for a local charity and interacting with other volunteers,
  • Managing customers during a work placement,
  • Working in a team with other students to complete a large research project.

Collaboration is essential for success in most workplaces, so it’s essential for students to gain experience in this area before graduation.

Active learning in experiential learning

Implementing experiential learning in a student research project

Implementing the experiential learning approach into your students’ research projects is easy. Here are a few ideas to take on board.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork involves observing and collecting raw data about natural environments, cultures, and people. It is also commonly known as field research.

When you look at what’s involved in fieldwork, it’s clear to see the connection to experiential learning. Some key factors involved in fieldwork line up perfectly with those in Kolb’s experiential learning model, like direct observation and reflection or analysis.

Through data analysis, fieldwork helps students understand varied perspectives on ecological, social, and political issues. This understanding can help them justify their own views while acknowledging how other people see the world. 

Internships

Internships help students gain real-world experience in a working environment relevant to their chosen career path. 

Today’s employers are looking for more than a university degree—they’re after demonstrated experience. And for fresh graduates, work experience is hard to come by. That’s why internships are so valuable.  

Simulations

As many companies are moving to remote work setups, work simulations are becoming a popular way for students to gain real-world experience without entering a physical workplace.

These simulations are comparable to real-world tasks in that students can self-assess their skills and see how their learning applies to real scenarios.

For example, students could undertake a simulated work project where they start up and run a coffee shop. Working as a group, students could run simulated job interviews, assign positions, plan marketing campaigns, and practise their skills.

Team projects

Working with other students towards a common goal is a fantastic way to teach students about the value of collaboration. Adding multiple perspectives to a research project is sure to invoke fresh, unique, and innovative ideas and experiences that students can draw upon as they enter working life.

Working as a team can also break up a long research project and keep students engaged for longer. For example, each student could take on a role related to their individual skills and experience, with one as Project Manager, one as Principal Investigator, and so on.

Students undertaking research project

How companies can benefit from student research projects

Experiential learning and student research projects don’t just benefit students, but educators, educational institutions, and companies, too.

Save time and money on market research

By engaging in student partnerships, businesses can save time and money on market research. Through employability programs like those offered by Practera, companies can connect to students across Australia and the globe at no extra cost.

These students can offer invaluable reflections on currently untapped markets, evaluating the effectiveness of marketing, social media strategies, and more from an insider perspective.

By using Practera’s dedicated platform, businesses can also access accurate measurements of the project’s performance.

Uncover unique and useful insights

Practera’s student research projects are designed to help businesses and students work together to solve a pressing challenge. These challenges could include:

  • International growth,
  • Social impact,
  • Funding opportunities,
  • Growth opportunities following COVID-19.

Working with students towards these goals can open up fresh perspectives and reveal up to date information for businesses while helping students build job-ready skills at the same time. 

And with many students dedicating up 300 or more hours of solid work to these research projects, businesses can be sure they’ll have a team of loyal, passionate workers at their disposal.

Discover opportunities for your business

Getting involved in student research projects is a surefire way for businesses to unlock exciting opportunities for growth. Along with addressing skill shortages and helping to fill employment gaps, businesses can demonstrate their alignment with social responsibility and sustainability objectives, improving their brand’s reputation.

Learning with students can also improve staff relationships and identify opportunities for training or improvement within a business’s existing workforce.

Experiential research projects with Practera

Accessing, integrating, and delivering experiential research projects is easier than ever with Practera’s dedicated experiential learning platform. The software makes learning delivery seamless thanks to its custom experience design features and extensive template library.

In addition, you can access a range of helpful tools through the platform, including 360-degree feedback, illustrated workflows, detailed analytics, real-time performance tracking, and so much more.

Connect with the Practera team today to discuss how our platform could help you. Alternatively, you can download our white paper to discover our latest research into online project-based and experiential learning.


Submit your project today and Practera will assign a team of students to perform the research for your company


How Collaborative and Experiential Learning Foster Professional Growth in Higher Education

How Collaborative and Experiential Learning Foster Professional Growth in Higher Education

In our ever-changing and highly competitive world, the role of higher education institutions in fostering professional growth is more important than ever.

That’s why today’s educators are always looking for new and innovative ways to help students achieve career success. 

You’ve probably heard about the common catch-22 situation of needing experience to get an entry-level job—and the problem many fresh graduates face. 

Well, collaborative and experiential learning is a sure-fire way to bridge this gap. By using this approach in your classroom, you’ll create a cohort of job-ready students with the hands-on experience necessary to kickstart their careers.

In this article, we’ll discuss how experiential learning fills the gap between education and employment and suggest some tools your institution can use to make the process easier, such as Practera’s dedicated experiential learning platform.

Practera makes delivering powerful experiential learning outcomes and eliminating the employment gap easy—just keep reading to find out how.

What is collaborative and experiential learning?

Collaborative learning and experiential learning are two distinct educational methods—but they work best together! Combining these strategies is a fantastic way to you’re your students engaged with coursework and boost their chances of success.  

Purpose

Collaborative learning involves students working in small groups to solve problems. This approach is a powerful way to foster active learning and encourage students to embrace the working world’s interpersonal challenges.

Experiential learning, as you might gather from the name, is all about learning through experience. The approach centres around the experiential learning model designed by educational theorist David Kolb.

Some common examples of experiential and collaborative learning activities include:

  • Internships and work placements,
  • Work simulations,
  • Applied group projects,
  • Volunteer work,
  • Fieldwork,
  • Entrepreneurship and enterprises,
  • Service-learning.

Essentially, experiential learning is all about applying what your students learn in the classroom to the real world, helping them understand the genuine impact of their work. 

Combined, experiential and collaborative learning provide an experience much like a real workplace environment. And the results are clear. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Political Science Education, students participating in university internship programs:

  • Had a greater likelihood of attending graduate school,
  • Gained numerous practical skills,
  • Were more confident in their decision-making,
  • Felt better prepared for future career success.

Growth and popularity

Experiential and collaborative learning are becoming increasingly popular in higher education institutions across Australia and the world. Why? Because their impact is undeniable!

While traditional education still has its merits, it simply doesn’t apply as well to the world we live in today. Modern students need 21st-century skills to succeed in the workplace, and experiential and collaborative learning are some of the best ways to build these skills.  

Collaborative and experiential learning

How does this approach foster professional growth in higher education?

So, we understand why experiential and collaborative learning are so popular among modern higher education institutions. But what aspects of these pedagogies foster professional growth? You’ll find your answers in this section.

Real-world experience

Let’s say you’re teaching a class of performing arts students. While learning about the theories and practises behind dance and drama is useful, your students will benefit much more from getting up on stage and performing!

If a dance student wants to succeed in professional life, it’s not enough to know the facts. They’ll need proven experience in performing in front of a live audience.

That’s where an experiential and collaborative approach, like work-integrated learning, comes in. You could have your students perform in a local stage production, helping them gain applicable skills and feel the real-world impact of their studies.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Interactive learning

Interactive learning is a teaching method involving active participation from the learner. For example, rather than sitting back and listening to a lecture, the student plays a reciprocal role in the lesson.

Interactive learning doesn’t necessarily need to be hands-on. It’s possible to make a traditional lecture interactive by involving students in the discussion, asking and answering questions, and inviting them to share stories or perspectives.

This type of learning is vital for professional growth because it bolsters critical thinking skills, keeps students engaged, and makes them feel valued for their input and opinions.

Exposure to different perspectives

Through collaborative experiential learning, your students will interact with people of all ages, cultures, skill levels, and backgrounds. This exposure to different perspectives is essential for success in the working world, where they’ll likely interact with a range of people each day.

For example, a student studying social work may choose to volunteer at a local care centre or association for vulnerable people. During their time volunteering, the student will get to know and interact with a variety of people, providing them with the interpersonal skills, resilience, and written and oral communication skills necessary to succeed in their career path.

Improves communication and leadership skills

Communication and leadership skills are critical for workplace success, especially if an individual aims to move up within their company or organisation. Instilling your students with these skills during their studies will give them the best chance at achieving their career goals.

Experiential and collaborative learning build communication and leadership skills by encouraging students to work together to solve a problem. 

Ideally, every student should have the opportunity to ‘lead’ a team, whether through a group project, internship, or other experiential activity. Active application

One of the best parts of collaborative learning is the ability to apply experiences to real-world scenarios. This type of learning helps students:

  • Feel more engaged with the content,
  • Retain information more readily,
  • Experience strong social development,
  • Enjoy the learning experience,
  • Build problem-solving and critical thinking skills,
  • Develop creative and innovative new ideas,
  • Feel more confident in their abilities.

Student undertaking experiential learning

Reflection and feedback

Feedback and reflection are essential parts of the experiential and collaborative learning process, helping students understand what they’ve learned, how they’re progressing, and where they can improve.

Collaborative feedback is even better. With this approach, students offer each other suggestions, reflections, and advice, building critical thinking skills and encouraging an interactive learning environment.

Understanding how to self-reflect and respond positively to feedback are essential job-ready skills. Employers look highly upon such skills as reflectors of candour and professionalism.

More benefits for educators and higher education institutions

Along with helping students with their professional growth, experiential and collaborative learning provide several other benefits for students, educators, and higher education institutions alike. Let’s discuss some of these benefits now.

Higher course completion rates

According to a 2019 study on accounting business students, graduation rates and end-of-course grades were notably higher for experiential learning students than non-experiential learning students. 

These findings indicate that implementing experiential learning activities and projects within your classroom is a fantastic way to keep your students engaged and increase course completion. 

Ownership over projects and tasks

One of the main aspects of experiential education is student-led learning. In other words, students have greater control over the subject, trajectory, and outcome of their learning than they would in a traditional classroom environment.

When students have the chance to define individual goals and objectives, they become more engaged with their work. When there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, students are free to explore, investigate, and innovate without fear of making mistakes.

As such, in this type of learning environment, your role as a teacher is less about delivering information and more about facilitating discussions to guide students through their explorations.

Active engagement and performance

A 2018 study from St. Catherine University found that students participating in collaborative learning activities were more engaged and built stronger social-emotional skills necessary for success in modern life.

The study advises educators to incorporate collaborative learning, international group formation, and instruction on effective participation into coursework to improve engagement.

But why is experiential education so strongly connected with heightened student performance and engagement? Well, according to a Frontiers in Psychology study published in 2021, learner motivation is influenced by five key factors:

  • The learner themselves,
  • The educator,
  • The teaching method,
  • The learning environment,
  • The course content.

When creating his experiential learning theory, Kolb took all five of these factors into account. Starting with the learner themselves, Kolb encouraged a focus on individual learning styles, tailoring the teaching method, environment, and content to the student’s needs and interests—in turn creating a richly interactive and deeply motivational educational approach.  

Use of project-based learning

Project-based learning (PBL) is a branch of experiential education that focuses on student-driven, active experimentation. Learners engage with authentic, often hands-on experiences and work collaboratively to find a solution.

PBL projects typically focus on real-world problems, like current events or local community issues. Once students have identified the problem, they can begin working towards a solution, reflecting on their progress, and learning as they move forward.

Focusing on collaboration and active experimentation is the best way to successfully implement PBL within your classroom. For example, if there’s a problem with littering in your neighbourhood, your students could plan and run a community clean-up day, gaining key skills in leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Collaborative workspace

Implementing experiential and collaborative learning with Practera

Implementing the experiential and collaborative educational approaches is easier than ever with Practera’s range of dedicated tools. Designed for educators and higher education institutions, the platform makes delivering powerful cooperative learning experiences seamless.

The power of Practera is clear. It’s the key conduit for providing your students with the critical, real-world experience they need to land their first job.

Using our tools, which include detailed analytics, adaptive learning pathways, and clear performance tracking, you can help bridge the experience gap so many fresh graduates struggle with while reducing delivery costs.

Practera’s ready-made templates and project briefs make getting started quicker and easier than ever. You can browse through a range of template categories—like internships, team projects, or mentoring—and choose one to suit your exact needs. You can then customise or build upon the template or brief as you see fit.  

To learn more about what Practera’s experiential learning platform can do for you, your students, and your institution, connect with our team for a discussion today. You can also download our white paper to learn more.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


 

How Gamified Learning Increases Productivity and Engagement in Higher Education

How Gamified Learning Increases Productivity and Engagement in Higher Education

Today’s educators are always looking for new, motivating, and powerful ways to engage students. Two popular modern methods are gamified and project-based learning—but what’s involved in these pedagogies, and what makes them so effective?

You’ll find all the answers you need in this article!   

What is gamified learning?

Gamified learning is an educational approach that combines video games and education to create a more engaging and motivating learning experience.

But it’s not just about playing games in the classroom. It’s about using game-like elements to make any kind of learning more effective.

Quiz apps like Kahoot! are a popular example of a gamified learning platform used in classrooms around Australia and the world. The app’s game-like ‘rewards’ such as points, badges, emotes, and unlockable ‘chests’ drive students to succeed.

When combined with project-based learning, which involves active engagement in meaningful projects, gamification creates a powerful learning experience.

The key to a successful gamified learning project is good game design. Whether designing a gamified lesson or an entire gamified course for your students, you’ll need to think like a professional game designer.

Most importantly, you’ll need to create challenges for your students that are meaningful, achievable, and rewarding while making sure they align with your curriculum’s goals. It’s also a good idea to create feedback loops so your learners who are struggling or show signs of mastery can continue progressing.

Preparing students for the workplace with experiential learning

How gamified learning increases productivity and engagement

So, how exactly does gamified learning improve the educational experience for students and educators? We’ll dive into this question in the sections below.

Enriched learning experience

Today’s young people are so deeply entwined with technology it has become an integral part of their everyday lives. Modern universities have adapted all kinds of technology, such as online distance learning platforms, digital file-sharing tools, and electronic whiteboards. Game-based learning is another step in this forward-thinking process.

Because modern students are so accustomed to technology, gamified learning works on their unique level. Students earn interactive rewards, points, and achievements as they learn, creating an enriching, holistic experience that makes them feel empowered and accomplished.

Increased desire to learn

Gamified learning also leverages students’ desire to learn and increases their interest in the subject matter. The best way to achieve this is to create interactive, engaging gamified content using proven game design principles.

But how does gamification boost the desire to learn? It’s all about dopamine. 

Just think about the rush you feel when you score a goal in basketball or win a prize from an arcade machine—it’s the same thing! When your students earn rewards and points through gamified learning, they get a dopamine release, making them want to keep learning.  

In the context of project-based and experiential education, your students will also have a clear, well-defined goal, which creates a sense of urgency and drives them to succeed.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Stronger knowledge retention

As an educator, you’re likely always looking for ways to improve knowledge retention within your student cohort. Repeating the same subjects is time-consuming, so it’s best to do whatever you can to help your students better absorb and retain what they learn.

Gamification is a fantastic way to achieve this goal. According to a 2015 study, gamification improved student retention rates by 25%, while an addition of social game elements raised this amount to 50%. This data shows that gamification is even more powerful when social aspects are involved, which is a key part of project-based learning.

Diverse learning methods and materials

Project-based learning is all about encouraging students to take control of their education and take advantage of their unique learning styles. Gamification takes this a step further, making it easier than ever for educators to personalise learning experiences for each student.

For example, some students learn better through visual demonstration than written content. With a gamified app, you can automatically deliver the same information through different formats for each student, giving each individual the greatest chance at success.

Gamification isn’t limited to the digital world, either. Let’s say a group of students have set a project goal to raise money for a local charity. You can gamify the project by allowing students to gain ‘points’ for each dollar they raise, receiving a badge, medal, or prize when they reach a certain number of points. This can boost intrinsic motivation and will be especially beneficial for students with a hands-on learning style.

Active collaboration

Gamification also encourages active collaboration, where students work together to earn points, achieve rewards, and reach short and long-term goals. While traditional assignments may lack concrete goals, gamification can break a large project down into several ‘stages’ with rewards at each checkpoint.

As we mentioned above, social gamification increases retention even further than gamification on its own. This increase happens largely because students engage in real-time, which is particularly helpful with distance education.

Your gamified project’s social and collaborative aspects could include students versing each other in a digital quiz, working towards team-based achievements, or ‘upvote’ systems where students can send points and rewards to others.

Project based learning

How you can implement gamified learning in your classroom

So, now you understand the immense benefits of educational games and gamifying project-based learning, you’re probably wondering how to implement the approach within your classroom. We’ll give some specific examples below to help you get started.

Point systems

Many educational video games use a point system to measure students’ progress and encourage them to proceed. The typical ‘star charts’ used in primary and high schools across Australia are a basic example of a point system.

You can easily implement a point system within any project-based learning activity—it’s all about getting creative. For example, art students planning and running a local gallery show could earn points for each part of art submitted to the show and each ticket sold. They could then earn rewards or badges once for every 5 or 10 points gained.

Gamified grading

Typical grading systems involve students completing a task, quiz, or project and receiving a letter or number grade at the end. This system isn’t particularly encouraging since the ‘reward’ is only earned at the end of the project, and numbers and grades can be arbitrary.

A gamified grading system could involve students earning experience or ‘XP’ points for each section of the project they complete successfully. As they build up XP, students can gain levels, competing with their peers to achieve the highest possible level or ‘grade’.

Challenges and projects

Many companies set gamified challenges to promote their products, such as Nike’s Nike+ Run Club, where runners compete against each other to share their race statistics and compete with other challengers. You can use similar ideas in your classroom to keep your students engaged and involved.

For example, if you teach an IT class, you could run a ‘game jam’ type event where you challenge your students to design and create a program, app, or game. The students could then test and play each others’ programs or games, voting on which ones they like best. The top three most-liked apps could win a prize.

Leaderboards and badges

Leaderboards are another great way to gamify the project-based learning experience. You can combine leaderboards with badges—i.e. the #1 student earns a platinum badge, students #2 to #5 earn gold, #6 to #10 earn silver, and so on.

Implementing a leaderboard is a great way for students to physically see their progress and weigh up their achievements against other students in the class. The drive to reach the top of the leaderboard is highly motivational for many students and can help them do their best work.  

Educational gaming platforms

Using educational gaming platforms within your classroom is one of the simplest ways to gamify the student learning experience. 

The language-learning app Duolingo is a great example of a successful educational gaming platform. The app implements several game mechanics to motivate students, such as points for getting several questions correct in a row, daily goals, community challenges, leaderboards, and achievement badges.

But gamification isn’t limited to language learning. Regardless of your course focus, you can likely find an educational platform or app to help gamify the experience. For example, the educational coding platform Codecademy uses gamification to keep students progressing through their courses.

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

Make gamification simple with Practera

Gamifying your project-based learning activities is easier than ever with Practera’s dedicated gamification tools. The platform features several fantastic gamified features to drive student engagement and productivity, including badges and achievements, interactive performance tracking, and custom grading scales. 

Using Practera, you can create custom workflows, implementing gamification features as you see fit. Using Practera’s range of achievements, you can create different pathways. In this way, you can create a personalised experience for each student that will drive them to succeed. 

The platform also offers a huge range of features for educators and higher learning institutions hoping to deliver powerful project-based learning experiences, including a detailed analytics dashboard, chat-based collaboration tools, activity trackers, and much more.

To get started with Practera, contact our friendly team, request a platform demo, or download our white paper to find out more today.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


 

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Adults

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Adults

Are you looking for a fresh, impactful way to engage your adult learners and guarantee their success after graduation? Experiential learning, a modern alternative to traditional education, is the answer. 

Read on to learn more about how and why this pedagogy is so powerful.

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is an innovative educational pedagogy based on the theory that students learn best through active participation in real-world experiences. Work-integrated learning and project-based learning are two branches of experiential learning often included in today’s higher education curriculums.

Educational theorist David Kolb, the developer of the experiential learning theory, described it as a ‘cycle’ with four main points:

  • Abstract conceptualisation
  • Active experimentation
  • Concrete experience
  • Reflective observation

In other words, through the experiential learning cycle, students will research and actively experiment with a subject by engaging in real-world tasks. They will then reflect upon what they have learned.

Some examples of experiential learning activities universities could offer include:

  • Excursions to relevant places, such as building sites for architecture students or hospitals for nursing students,
  • Developing a smartphone app to solve a pressing real-world need,
  • Interactive simulations (i.e., flight simulations for aviation students).

By offering this type of education, educators will enjoy a more attentive classroom, better attendance and retention rates, and vastly improved employment outcomes for their students.

Adults using experiential learning methods

The Benefits of Offering Experiential Learning Experiences

Experiential learning experiences can have immense benefits for students, educators, and learning institutions. Several recent studies have identified the power of experiential learning in boosting employment outcomes, raising retention rates, and improving the higher education experience for students and educators alike.

Read on if you’re keen to learn more about how experiential learning experiences can benefit your adult learners.

Create real-world relevance

With traditional education, many students feel detached from the actual results of their work—they might receive a letter or percentage grade, but they’ll fail to see how their efforts affect the real world. Experiential learning tackles this problem head-on.

For example, a traditional law school project might involve researching and commenting on a recent case. After completing projects like these, students usually receive a grade reflecting how well they gathered information and presented their findings—but students might never know why researching and understanding the case is so important.

An experiential learning alternative to this project could involve a simulated courtroom environment. Students could see how witness statements, evidence presentations, and trials play out in real-time, gaining a stronger understanding of the genuine impact of their work.

Accelerate learning

With experiential learning, students also absorb information more readily than in a traditional classroom environment. Teaching complex topics becomes significantly easier for educators, especially with ongoing feedback and reflection between teacher and student.

As educators, we know practising a skill strengthens connections in the brain, making information easier to absorb. Since experiential learning involves hands-on practice and real-time problem solving, these connections strengthen faster, so students are ready to move onto more complex tasks sooner than with traditional education.

Provide opportunities for collaboration

You’re likely well aware of the benefits of collaboration between students, educators, peers, and mentors alike. Since experiential learning tasks are hands-on and ongoing, there are plenty of opportunities for students to connect with a much vaster range of people than they would in traditional schooling.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Why Your Adult Learners Need Experiential Education

Experiential learning has been popular in early education settings for a while now—but higher education institutions are starting to see the benefits and jump on board, too. In fact, experiential education is essential for educators hoping to improve employment outcomes and prepare their adult learners for the challenges of daily life.  

Now, let’s dive into some of the key reasons experiential education is so important for adult learners.

Real-world experiences

Through experiential education, you can deliver real-world experiences to your adult learners. As we touched on above, your learners will see the results of their work in real-time, which is highly motivating and encouraging for many students.

If boosting employment rates is your goal, offering real-world experiences is one of the best ways to go about it. Adult students can gain genuine, hands-on experience in their chosen field through adult learning experiences such as:

  • Work placements, whether in-person or virtual
  • Internships
  • Fieldwork
  • Volunteer work
  • Service-learning
  • Entrepreneurship

For example, a computer science student could enter a week-long internship or placement at a local web development company, helping the staff work on an ongoing project. This experience will give the student the applied knowledge and industry connections they’ll need to succeed in their future career.  

Opportunities for deep reflection

One of the four aspects of Kolb’s experiential learning model is ‘reflective observation’. This point is all about students developing observations about their experiences and reflecting on the learning process.

Deep reflection allows adult learners to make sense of the subject or material they have experimented with, especially concerning their unique interests, skills, and goals. Encouraging your students to reflect upon their work will empower them to take responsibility for their learning, improving their memory, motivation, and performance.

Active learning in experiential learning

Active experimentation

Another aspect of Kolb’s model is ‘active experimentation’. This point involves students using theories to make decisions and solve real-world problems.

For example, an urban planning student might identify a problem with bus schedules in their community. To actively solve this problem, the student could work in a group to develop a plan for change or collect signatures to deliver to a local government authority.

Encouraging your students to make active choices will deepen their understanding of the topic and significantly improve their information recall.

Leadership and collaboration

Leadership and collaboration skills are essential for success in adult life, regardless of a student’s chosen career path. Whether they’re supervising a team or working on a household budget with their partner, your students will benefit from the communication skills experiential learning for adults can help build.

Suppose a student’s project involves raising money for a local charity. In that case, they can build leadership skills by presenting their fundraising plan to the community and actively promoting the event. They’ll build collaboration skills in much the same way—through communicating with their fundraising team and customers.  

Initiative and accountability

While experiential learning involves plenty of teamwork and collaboration, ultimately, it’s a self-driven pedagogy. Under the guidance of educators and peers, students take responsibility for their learning, making decisions and solving problems independently.

When students lose points on an essay or assignment, they might not understand where they went wrong. As educators, we can try to instruct students on how to improve, but nothing can beat the benefits of seeing the real-time ramifications of their self-directed learning.

When students take accountability for mistakes and problems as they occur, they can learn how to solve them. This experience will give your adult learners the confidence and skills they need to tackle problems in their future lives.

Why Experiential Learning is the Future for Higher Education

In today’s rapidly developing society, higher education institutions and educators must learn to best serve their students. Here are some key reasons why experiential learning is the future for higher education.

Bridge the gap between theory and practice

Many higher education institutions still teach theoretical skills without applying them to real-world scenarios. But studies have shown that bridging the gap between adult learning theory and practice is critical for success.

According to a 2009 study of medical students, learning and retaining the new skill of endotracheal intubation was significantly easier for experiential education students than guided education students. At three months, 64.5% of experiential education students completed their task, while only 36.9% of guided students were successful. The experiential success rate for experiential learning students grew to 86% at 12 months.

Personalise learning experiences

You can personalise your students’ learning experiences to suit their unique interests and skills through experiential learning. There’s no more standardised testing where every student works on the same task. Instead, you can call upon Kolb’s learning style model to discover projects and activities that will ignite your students’ curiosities and motivate them to succeed.

As higher education institutions recognise the Kolb learning styles and see the benefits of personalising tasks, retention rates and employability rankings will soar.

Prepare adult students for success in work and life

Universities hoping to boost employability rankings and provide their students with a clear path to success will benefit from offering adult experiential learning.

As educators, there’s no better feeling than seeing your hard work and guidance pay off. By offering experiential learning experiences, you can help build the hard and soft skills your learners will need to find employment and tackle challenges they may face in their daily lives.

Implementing experiential learning with adults

Implementing Experiential Learning with Practera

Practera’s experiential learning platform allows educators to deliver powerful learning experiences that make a real difference. Using the platform’s convenient and practical features, you’ll be able to engage, encourage, and drive your adult learners to succeed.

Some of Practera’s key features for educators include:

  • Streamlined communications between students, educators, and employers
  • An extensive, pre-built template library for instantly delivering impactful learning experiences
  • Detailed analytics displaying your students’ performance in a single pane
  • Automated peer feedback loops
  • Simplified progress and performance tracking

To get started with Practera’s innovative platform, start a conversation with one of our friendly representatives today or download our white paper to learn more.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


Best Skills to Teach Your Learners in 2022 to Increase Their Employability

Best Skills to Learn in 2022 to Increase Employability

Why is skill-building so important for future-proofing careers?

In today’s world, the way we work is rapidly shifting. With new technologies arriving faster than we can count, how can we help our students succeed?

The answer is education. By constantly developing new skills and building upon existing ones, students can stay ahead of the game and secure a rewarding, long-term career.

But which employability skills do employees of tomorrow need? For educators, is offering a basic understanding of the technological landscape enough, or do we need to instil more specific knowledge? We’ll highlight the best things to teach your learners in this article.

What skills are students currently learning?

Today’s educational institutions are drilling down on AI, digital marketing, and cloud-based technological skills more than ever before. Tech-heavy jobs related to everything from UX design to blockchain development are rising at unprecedented rates.

But 2022’s best skills to learn aren’t limited to technology. The need for diverse social and emotional skills is also on the rise. Successful employees of tomorrow must have a solid understanding of how the world works, the unique needs of the people around them, and what they want to do with their own lives.

What are the top skills you should learn for the future?

So, with tech-based jobs on the rise and employees needing to interact in new, diverse ways, what are the most profitable skills to teach our students? Or rather, what is the most useful skill to learn?

As automation takes over—along with evolving working arrangements like remote and hybrid positions—modern technological skills are critical. Students will need to explore data analytics, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other related paths.

Soft skills, like interpersonal intelligence and communication, are just as (if not more!) important, regardless of the student’s chosen career path. 

In the next part of this article, we’ll dive deeper into the top skills to learn for future employability, starting with some key hard skills before discussing the soft skills you’ll need to back them up.


Want to learn more? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are using experiential learning.


Hard Skills

Hard tech skills are increasingly sought after in today’s technology-driven world. By imparting these future-ready skills in our students, we’ll prepare them well for decades of stable employment and career growth.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

If there’s one answer to the question, ‘Which skill is best for the future?’, it’s AI. 

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science dealing with the design and development of intelligent machines. American cognitive and computer scientist John McCarthy first coined the term in 1956 in a proposal written for the Dartmouth conference.

While originally a distant dream, AI is now an integral tool in how we live and work, covering everything from virtual assistant technologies like Siri and Alexa to the intelligent algorithms driving social media feeds.

Today, AI is an essential part of many commercial and industrial applications, including speech recognition, robotics, web search engines, translation, and medical diagnosis. Regardless of their field, AI skills will play a driving role in any student’s future career success.

Coding

Coding is one of the top skills to learn online today, with many free online course options available. It’s a critical foundational skill applicable to many jobs, from front-end development to data science and beyond. Among other benefits, coding skills allow students to create and manage digital content, make changes to websites and apps, and automate tasks.

According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook website, software and application programming jobs anticipate ‘very strong’ future growth, with the number of Australian workers expected to reach 199,800 by 2025.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is an approach to storing and accessing data, applications, and services over a network. The system has become essential in today’s world, with modern businesses delivering critical communications and storing data in the cloud.

Skills in cloud computing can lead students to several high-paying and stable positions, including:

As more and more businesses adopt cloud computing services, demand for the skill is sure to rise. Students can build these skills by pursuing an IT or computer science degree or engaging in certification programs through vendors like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

hard skills that increase employability

Blockchain

Blockchain is a new technology with a decentralised, secure, and immutable architecture. It uses the power of cryptography to generate trust and accountability without needing a centralised authority or third party on-board.

Blockchain technology has revolutionised how people transact, store data, and exchange value. Soon, blockchain technology could play a key role in every industry that deals with transactions or data storage, from engineering to healthcare and beyond—making it one of the best technical skills to learn for career success.

UX (user experience) design

UX design is the process of defining the customer experience, gathering requirements, and developing a design to meet those needs. It is an integral part of any project that involves digital products or services.

UX designers understand how users interact with a product and the improvements necessary to drive better engagement. They have a strong, holistic view of the user’s environment and create high-octane solutions to fit the user’s needs.

UX designers need to think creatively, work collaboratively, understand different perspectives, and empathise with their users. These are all skills that you can learn through education or experience—and they’re also skills employers actively look for when hiring new employees.

Soft Skills

Hard skills are fantastic for helping students enter growing STEM industries—but soft skills are still as important as ever. Teaching these skills through hands-on experiences and projects will help your students impress employers and manage any challenges they might face in the workplace.   

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to question information and form an independent opinion. Employers want workers who can think critically because it demonstrates intelligence, creativity, and strong problem-solving skills. Thinking critically goes hand-in-hand with learning agility, another essential employability skill that involves adapting to new challenges.

Today and in the decades to come, critical thinking skills will always be in-demand. Industries from engineering and mathematics to education and healthcare can benefit from employees who can actively conceptualise and apply knowledge.

All in all, there are many reasons why critical thinking skills are essential for the business world—they help us think more creatively, solve problems more effectively, and make better decisions.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence describes skills that help a person understand and manage emotions—both their own and those around them. Emotional intelligence includes skills like:

Building these skills is essential if you’re looking to boost your employability. Doing so will help you to better understand yourself and the people around you, leading to stronger working relationships, more effective teamwork, and a clearer path to reaching your career goals.

soft skills that increase employability

Communication

Verbal, non-verbal, and written communication skills are crucial in the workplace. Whether you’re public speaking, meeting with your boss, demonstrating digital marketing skills, or answering a client’s questions, you’ll need to communicate effectively to succeed.

A workplace without open communication will never function smoothly. Regardless of their experience or position within the company, all employees should feel comfortable and confident in making their opinions known. That’s why all learning institutions should instil communication skills in their students to elevate their chances of success.

Leadership

Leadership skills develop through experience and exposure to different leadership styles. Universities and other educational institutions can help students build this skill through hands-on opportunities like project-based learning, internships, work placements, and even online courses.

Here are some of the benefits of having leaders in the workplace:

A leader needs to be confident, persuasive and inspiring. They’ll have the confidence and skill needed to motivate their team, lead ethically, and empower their employees. These traits are necessary for any company to thrive in today’s competitive environment.

How Practera can help

Practera’s experiential learning platform helps educators deliver transformative educational experiences for students, helping them develop the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in the modern workplace. 

Through our innovative platform, educators and institutions can instill these critical hard and soft skills through work-integrated and project-based learning programs at a low cost and at scale. These hands-on assignments offer a powerful way for educators to help students build employability skills, increase retention rates, and improve employability rankings for universities.

Along with connecting students, educational institutions, and employers, the platform offers a vast range of additional benefits, including peer review features, adaptive learning pathways, in-depth analytics, and detailed performance tracking.

To get started with Practera, download our white paper or get in touch with our team of experts to find out more about how our platform can help your students succeed.


Boost your skills and employability with Practera and learn more about the importance of experiential learning today.


Get Your Students Industry-Ready with Online Project-Based Learning

Get Your Students Industry-Ready with Online Project-Based Learning

In today’s digitally-driven world, educators are discovering new ways to deliver experiential learning experiences such as project-based learning.

Through online tools such as video conferencing software, messaging apps, and simulated work environments, educators can still help students become industry-ready through project-based educational experiences.

Find out more about the power of online PBL and how it can help your students succeed in the working world in this article.

What is project-based learning?

Project-based learning (PBL or PJBL) is an educational pedagogy in which students apply knowledge and skills to various real-world applications.

The goal behind PBL is to teach students how to solve problems and make decisions relevant to their daily lives, rather than simply memorising facts. It emphasises the process of learning (such as research, analysis, and reflection) over the final result.

In a PBL environment, teachers are facilitators who guide students through identifying a topic, planning a solution, exercising research, and analysing the results. As educators, we can encourage students to take risks and take creative approaches to find solutions, helping them build essential skills for success in the working world.

Different types of project-based learning

Educators can deliver project-based learning in a variety of ways. The idea is to keep students engaged with a relevant driving question and in-depth research and reflection.

Some popular approaches to project-based learning include:

  • Action Research: Students take on the role of researcher and conduct an action research study related to a real-life problem in their community.
  • Case Study: Students work on a simulated case study or live case assigned by an organisation or company.
  • Community Action Project: Students identify a problem in their community and work with local organisations to create solutions.
  • Course Project: A student creates a course-related project, often with other students, designed to teach them about a timely topic.

Want to reduce student costs by 90%? Download the ‘Quality in Online Project-Based Learning’ white paper to see how top institutions are doing it.


Let’s say a student is strong in science and mathematics, with a keen interest in robotics and future technologies. As educators, we can draw upon these strengths and deliver highly-applicable learning experiences to benefit students and encourage their growth.

For example, the student could identify a problem in their community—like potholes or graffiti—and design a robot to solve that problem. There would be no need to build the robot, since the learning stems from the ability to actively identify, research, and reflect upon an issue, which students can achieve through digital tools.

Project based learning

Why is Project-Based Online Learning important for students?

Project-based learning offers many benefits for students, from helping them succeed in work and life to building their self-confidence. Educators will also see many benefits, from better classroom attentiveness to higher attendance and retention rates.

Let’s start by talking about the key differences between experiential education (i.e. project-based and work-integrated learning) and traditional educational approaches.

In a traditional educational environment, educators deliver information to students. This delivery normally comes in lectures, tutorials, or worksheets, where students must absorb and retain verbal or visual instruction.

While this approach is effective for some students, it doesn’t consider the broad range of individual learning styles, skills, and interests. These styles, as outlined by experiential learning theorist David Kolb, are:

  • Diverging (feeling and watching)
  • Assimilating (thinking and watching)
  • Converging (thinking and doing)
  • Accommodating (feeling and doing)

The assimilating learning style is best suited to traditional education, since these students learn well through readings, lectures, and reflection. However, this leaves out three other styles encompassing millions of students around the globe.

That’s where project-based learning comes in. With PBL and work-integrated learning, students choose educational experiences related to their unique learning styles and interests. For example, a student with a diverging learning style—which focuses on idea generation and working with others—would benefit immensely from a community project like raising money for a local charity.

This focus on self-directed, tailored learning boosts retention rates, improves student engagement, and higher university employability rankings.

How does project-based learning online ensure students are industry-ready?

PBL is a fantastic way to build hard and soft skills to prepare your students for future employment. As an educator, you can deliver PBL experiences directly related to each student’s desired career path, even without them needing to step into a physical workplace.

Exposure to a collaborative environment

Teamwork is a vital skill across industries. PBL introduces students to the benefits and challenges of collaborative learning, teaching them to work better in a team and embrace different perspectives. For example, students could form a group and assign rules to each member based on their skills and interests, helping them learn more about their roles within a team.

Solving real-world problems

Many students can more deeply understand a subject by applying their knowledge to real-life situations. This application doesn’t have to happen in physical space—but their approach does need to solve a real-world problem.

For example, a student could identify a budding issue in their community—such as a lack of recreation—and use their problem-solving skills to research and design a solution, like a new park or sporting arena.

Student critical thinking using project-based learning

Developing critical thinking skills

Critical thinking considers all available information, both favourable and unfavourable, to make an informed judgment about the topic at hand. People who think critically will look at the information supporting their beliefs and identify evidence that might contradict their beliefs or point out errors in their reasoning.

PBL will help your students become more critical, agile thinkers thanks to the varied perspectives they’ll need to research and reflect upon. A driving point behind PBL is to offer varied student learning experiences, providing a perfect foundation for building critical thinking skills.

Cross-cultural experiences

When educational institutions restrict students to a single learning environment, their perspectives and understanding of the world around them become restrained. Students must have a broad worldview to succeed in the workplace.

Students are encouraged to explore new ideas and work with people they may not meet in a traditional classroom environment through project-based learning. In the online space, these experiences could include Zoom meetings with industry spearheads from varied cultural backgrounds.

Building communication skills

Project-based learning is a fantastic way to help students build written, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills. PBL’s emphasis on teamwork is particularly important here, helping students explore different communication styles and interact with a range of unique personalities.

Communication remains vital for distance learning. Through virtual meetings, connecting via messaging apps, forums, and online instruction, students will learn how to interact in the online world—an essential skill for the growing remote workplace.

Accessing feedback and reflection

Feedback and reflection are some of the most important aspects of learning, helping students identify and understand areas for improvement. Recognising mistakes is one of the most powerful ways to learn.

In the same way, reflection and feedback are integral parts of the working world, and students will need to learn how to accept and use feedback to succeed. An applicant who can readily (and positively) receive feedback will stand out to all employers, regardless of their industry—reflecting well on your ability as a teacher and leader.

Students becoming industry-ready

How universities can implement online project-based learning

While PBL learning is often described as ‘hands-on’, learning can continue outside of a physical environment. Your students will benefit immensely if the PBL projects involve dynamic, meaningful, flexible learning and sustained inquiry.

Some online project-based learning examples include:

  • Students set health and wellness goals for themselves, creating and following plans to achieve them and recording their progress. Students then reflect upon their experience on their health journey and identify potential improvements.
  • Students devise a business idea related to their unique interests and skills and create a business plan. Students use online collaboration tools to bring their idea to life.

One surefire way to deliver effective online PBL experiences to your students is through a dedicated platform like Practera.

Online project-based learning with Practera

Practera’s digital experiential learning platform makes delivering virtual PBL experiences, such as internships and action projects, easier than ever.

Via the platform, educators can connect students with industry leaders, helping them access invaluable guidance and advice within the digital landscape. Thanks to the platform’s engaging interface, integrated support tools, and AI-powered analytics, delivery is seamless, robust, and more efficient than ever—leaving you more time to focus on your students and helping them achieve their goals.

To begin, choose a proven online PBL experience from Practera’s in-built template library featuring over 100 real-world projects—or craft a unique experience using our flexible authoring tools. However you choose to engage your students, they’ll benefit from Practera’s 360-degree feedback, adaptive learning pathways, and chat-based collaboration tools.

To learn more about how Practera can help you deliver powerful project-based learning online experiences for your students, download our whitepaper or start a conversation with our team today.


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