The world is changing fast, and so is the workplace. By the end of 2022, 16% of the world’s companies will be 100% remote, while 85% of Managers believe remote working teams will soon become the new norm. The traditional educational approaches are no longer enough to prepare students for this changing landscape. Here at Practera, we understand the changing landscape and its need to equip educators to prepare students to gain skills employers are looking to recruit for & to escape the no experience, no job loop.
With our authentic industry projects available to you through Practera Programs, delivering project-based learning and real industry experiences to your learners and preparing students for this changing future of work has never been easier! With the ability to scale the program to 100s of learners at low cost. Practera’s industry experience program puts your learners in direct contact with businesses to gain skills and experiences employers are recruiting. Rest assured, your students will be ready to enter the workforce with confidence & excel in their careers!
But don’t just take our word for it! We’ve powered two programs recently recognised at the PIEoneer Awards 2022. The WACE Global Challenge program won the Real Life Learning Award, whilst Study Australia Industry Experience Program was recognised as a highly commended Program in the Employability International Impact award.
Enhancing Higher Education Employability with Experiential Learning
The world is changing fast—and so is the workplace. Traditional educational approaches are no longer enough to prepare students for this evolving landscape.
Today’s employers seek innovative graduates with 21st-century skills like confidence, creativity, and critical thinking. It’s vital to instil these skills to help your students excel in our dynamic working world—and experiential learning is the way to do it!
What is graduate employability?
Broadly, employability describes a person’s ability to find and keep a job. Graduate employability specifically refers to a learner’s career readiness and likelihood to impress employers following graduation.
But what makes a career-ready student?
Several scholars have attempted to define and measure employability. One 2018 study published in Frontiers in Psychology discusses the Bioecological Model of Employability and the Employability Appraisal Scale (EAS), which assesses employability’s social and personal aspects.
The Bioecological Model presents employability as a key element in recovering from economic crises, developing new career models, and enhancing the labour market. It suggests there’s more involved in employability than skills and experience—behaviours, thought processes, cultures, privileges, knowledge, and social attitudes are also deeply intertwined.
Educators hoping to develop employability in their students must focus not only on skills and qualifications but also on exposing learners to meaningful, real-world scenarios and social challenges.
The best way to achieve this goal is through experiential learning. We’ll go into more detail about this approach later in this article.
Why does employability matter?
Employability is important for students, educators, and communities. It also plays a crucial role in how higher education institutions achieve positive graduate outcomes.
Helps students find and maintain employment after graduation
Improves educational experiences for students and educators
Enhances learning outcomes
Reduces delivery costs
Increases graduate labour market outcomes
Reduces unemployment levels
Enhances and upskills the labour supply
The working world’s ongoing transformation also plays a key role in the growing importance of employability. With remote work on the rise, competition is now global—and graduates need to work even harder to stand out amongst the crowd.
According to economist Enrico Moretti in The New Geography of Jobs,“in the coming decades, global competition will be about attracting innovative human capital and innovative companies … cities with a large percentage of interconnected, highly educated workers will become the new factories where ideas and knowledge are forged.”
Educators, then, must instil relevant 21st-century skills and provide meaningful experiences to help students become the innovative, interconnected workers of the future.
Regardless of your student’s career goals, several skills are critical in building employability across all disciplines. Let’s discuss a few employability skills and why they matter now.
Problem-solving skills involve a student’s ability to identify, understand, and solve challenges. An individual with high problem-solving skills can find solutions to a given problem through a systematic approach, breaking down issues into smaller, digestible pieces.
There are two main categories of problem-solving: generic and domain-specific. Generic problem-solving skills focus on creativity, analytical thinking, and pattern recognition, while domain-specific skills include specialisations such as engineering design, science lab research, and interrogation techniques.
A highly employable graduate will exhibit both generic and domain-specific problem-solving skills. These abilities will help new employees tackle workplace challenges confidently, observing, judging, and acting quickly when issues arise.
Collaboration is critical for any organisation’s success. Brainstorming ideas and working as a team improves productivity and gives employees a sense of purpose, driving innovation and unlocking unique perspectives.
There are many ways to introduce more collaborative work into your classroom. For example, you could use work-integrated learning (WIL) to introduce your students to industry leaders, encouraging communication and reciprocal feedback similar to a real-world work environment.
People with strong decision-making skills can make quick, effective decisions with positive outcomes.
Workplace decision-making often involves input from different parties, including staff, customers, and stakeholders. Making decisions with so many different perspectives is difficult, so teaching your students how to use reasoning skills and intuition through vocational education is crucial.
Smart decision-making requires several related skills, including problem-solving, creative thinking, conflict resolution, and more. Again, the best way to teach these skills is through immersing your students in real-world scenarios where they must make genuinely impactful decisions.
For example, students engaging in a project-based learning task involving charity fundraising must work together to decide on the best course of action—how to raise funds, delegate tasks, and so on. The impact of the students’ decision-making will be quickly apparent in the outcome of their fundraising efforts.
Communication skills enable graduates to excel in interviews and to share their knowledge, ideas, and needs in the workplace. It’s also crucial in building positive relationships with bosses, fellow staff members, clients, and customers.
The best way to develop communication skills in your students is to encourage them to do just that—communicate! The more opportunities students have to express themselves and connect with people from all walks of life, the better their communication skills will be.
It’s also important to model effective communication skills in the classroom. Ask open-ended questions, foster class discussions, and reinforce active listening. Reflective learning —a key part of experiential education—can help students identify and address their strengths and weaknesses in communication.
Valuable pedagogies for educators can use in higher education institutions
Now, let’s discuss some approaches you can use for developing student employability in your classroom.
Experiential learning is a modern pedagogy focusing on the learner’s physical and emotional involvement in the subject. It involves applying classroom content to meaningful, real-world situations, often involving some sort of risk or challenge.
Educational theorist David Kolb developed his experiential learning theory in 1984. His model offers a foundational approach to all kinds of learning across cultures and disciplines, where students’ individual learning styles play a central role.
Kolb’s experiential learning cycle is a four-stage model that repeats itself indefinitely. The four stages are:
While there are endless ways to use the experiential learning model in your classroom, there are some guidelines to follow. Experiential learning projects should be meaningful, timely, student-led, and relevant to course content.
Examples of experiential learning activities include field trips, peer-to-peer tutoring, case studies, role-play exercises, group projects, on-the-job training, and internships.
Project-based learning (PBL) falls under the experiential learning umbrella. It focuses on students applying knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world contexts.
Rather than centring on the outcome of a project, project-based learning is all about the process. Projects should be engaging, meaningful, and challenging, encouraging students to learn from their mistakes and explore growth opportunities.
Examples of project-based learning include:
Architecture students visiting a job site to measure topography
Computer engineering students designing and building an app
Hospitality students catering for an event
Art students planning and running a gallery show
Graphic design students creating and presenting a logo for a client
These examples all meet project-based learning criteria, which require a challenging problem or question, sustained inquiry, authenticity, reflection, and a public product. For example, art students running a gallery show aim to solve the question, ‘How can artists successfully market their work?’
PBL enhances several crucial employability skills, including teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and other hard and soft skills. Implementing this technique in your classroom is a surefire way to equip students with the core skills needed for success.
Work-based learning goals
Work-integrated learning (WIL) is another powerful approach to enhancing graduate employability. This kind of experiential learning focuses on immersing students in genuine working environments.
WIL offers many benefits for students and educators, connecting learners with industry leaders and teaching employability skills relevant to their desired careers. Educators can observe how well students perform in work-like settings and can easily identify areas for improvement.
There are many ways to implement WIL in tertiary education, including virtual and in-person internships, job simulations, student-led enterprises, entrepreneurship, service learning, work placements, and fieldwork.
How experiential learning can drive higher education employability
Experiential learning is the most effective approach to building employability skills and enhancing graduate attributes. Let’s discuss a few reasons why.
Many graduates leave university with skills and knowledge but little to no experience in the real world. This problem lends itself to the old catch-22 situation of needing the experience to find a job but needing a job to get experience!
Experiential learning solves this issue by providing students with real-world experience before entering the working world. This way, students know what to expect as they enter their careers with enthusiasm and confidence.
Active learning involves students taking an equal role in the learning process. Rather than passively listening to instruction, students actively engage in class discussions and problem-solving.
According to a 2017 study published in Creative Education, active learning fosters a positive learning environment, facilitates direct interaction between students and lecturers, enhances communication skills, promotes open-mindedness, and encourages participation.
Using active learning techniques with your higher education students will increase knowledge retention and engagement in class content, helping you optimise and maximise your teaching efforts.
Collaboration and reflection
Collaboration and reflection are crucial aspects of career success.
Among other benefits, teamwork helps people solve problems, connect with workmates and clients, and be productive. Reflection enhances these benefits by identifying areas for change and improvement.
Teaching your students to collaborate and reflect through experiential learning will help them impress future employers and boost employment outcomes within your institution.
How Practera can help
Practera’s project learning technology platform is your one-stop shop for planning, organising, and delivering transformative educational experiences. Our authentic student industry experience programs delivered through our platform help your learners and students build in-demand skills like virtual teamwork, communication and stakeholder management while working with real industry clients. The opportunities are endless in what can be achieved through our platform and partnerships.
Our managed service for project-based learning offers high-quality education with real-world industry experiences. Start by connecting with our team today to adapt one of our Student Industry Project themes to your program such as growth strategy, technology innovation, sustainable impact, and more. With the freedom to decide the duration of the program, we’ll handle the work of setting up and connecting your project with industry clients!
By setting up your program on our platform, you have administrative access and live performance data to monitor your students and their process. Our service ensures full support throughout the program with a dedicated project manager as well as a certificate of completion for participating students.
The University of Sydney’s Business School recently used our platform to increase participation by 700% and enhance graduate employment by 300%. The higher education employability outcomes are clear—and delivery is simple with our extensive template library and custom experience design tools.
The Future of Leadership: How Your Students Can Prepare for a Changing Workforce
With the advance in technology, the way we work is changing. By the end of 2022, 16% of the world’s companies will be 100% remote, while 85% of managers believe remote working teams will soon become the new norm.
The statistics are clear. There’s no denying the growing trends shaping the way we work today.
Today’s higher learning institutions must prepare students for the changing workforce by instilling 21st-century skills. This article will discuss one such skill—leadership, specifically virtual and hybrid leadership— and how and why the way we teach this skill should change.
This information and advice will help you give your students the tools they need to become career-ready and succeed in our new reality as future leaders.
What is the importance of leadership?
Leadership is the foundation of any organisation because good leaders have the power to shape the future of a business. Leaders can set clear directions and goals by creating a culture, vision, and mission.
These steps are vital for creating a productive and efficient workplace with eyes to the future.
The changing working world means how we approach leadership is also shifting. Today’s leaders must foster acollaborative environment and encourage creativity and innovation—even in remote and hybrid spaces.
What is the future of leadership, and what are the critical skills involved?
We know thateffective leaders are empathetic, strong communicators who are generous with feedback. We also know that most Australians are reluctant to return toface-to-face work, meaning we must challenge the traditional leadership model that relies on controlled places, hours, and roles.
The question here is: how do we build trust and connectivity with new leadership methods that don’t rely on the traditional techniques we’re accustomed to?
A true leader, andeffective leader, leads by example. They’re invested in their team’s success, have open communication channels, are flexible and empathetic, and setclear goals and strategies to reach them. None of this is confined to the idea of a ‘workplace’. It is, however, part of a successful ‘workforce’.
So how do we, as educators, prepare the next generation for this task?
The answer is project-based learning and, in particular, virtual project-based learning. Project-based learning allows students to put theory into practice. It helps them foster the skills they need to lead in this new world of work.
Remote work experiences, whether in curriculum or extra-curricular, are no longer optional extras. They are just as relevant and essential (arguably more so) as the traditional face-to-face model. Our goal is to createemployable graduates. And employable graduates don’t just survive in the hybrid world; they thrive.
Thenew world of work is hybrid, and our next generation of leaders have an unparalleled opportunity to transform how we enter the workforce.
Challenges of traditional leadership strategy development
Traditional leadership is quintessentially autocratic and hierarchical. This approach falls in stark contrast to today’s methods, which focus on teamwork and clear, reciprocal communication.
Under a traditional leadership style, employees have little to no say in how an organisation progresses. This approach limits rapid growth and innovation, shutting down transformative ideas and fresh perspectives.
Modern leadership is reciprocal. Leaders provide support and guidance while employees confidently share ideas, suggestions, and concerns. This method creates a productive environment where all staff feelempowered and confident in their contributions,boosting motivation and propelling the organisation forward.
What is a hybrid working approach?
Thehybrid working approach is a mix of remote and in-office work. Some companies allow workers to choose when to work from home and head into the office, while others set specific in-office hours or days. Other employers may require employees to enter the office for weekly meetings while working remotely.
This type of work soared in popularity at the tail end of theCOVID-19 pandemic, creating a comfortable balance of work-from-home and office-based business.
How hybrid working is changing the role of business leaders
The hybrid model is transforming how we work, including how we approach leadership. Let’s discuss this change in more detail now.
Hybrid work is increasingly popular with employees because of the flexibility the approach offers. Reduced commute times offer more freedom and a better work-life balance for workers, allowing them to dedicate more time to family, health, and leisure.
A worker free to take care of their emotional and physical well-being is more likely toperform well in the workplace—and know how to lead a team effectively.
Future leaders will share thispositive outlookwith other workers, inspiring them to reach higher and achieve more—inspiration is a key aspect of modern leadership.
Building a virtual work culture
Employees still value a strong sense of culture and community in the virtual world. The need to bond over interests, attitudes, and perspectives is more important than ever.
Effective modern leaders will develop a fantastichybrid work culture, fostering trust, respect, and success. The key here is for leaders to focus on points relevant to their company’s goals.
For example, good leaders will avoidmicromanaging and using software to track team member behaviour for companies that value trust.
Gone are the days of the authoritarian leader telling everybody what to do and how to think. Today’s successful leaders are quite the opposite—empathetic, understanding people who treat employees equally and value their unique contributions.
Empathy and positive working outcomes go hand in hand. A recent Catalyst study found the skill drives better:
In thehybrid workplace, empathy is essential. Some employees may prefer to work from home, valuing the ability to set their schedule. An understanding leader will acknowledge this preference and allow employees to work in a way that suits them—leading to improved outcomes for the company.
What are the future challenges in leadership skills?
As the popularity of hybrid and remote work continues, future leaders will face a range ofchallenges. The best way to overcome these barriers is to understand how and why they might happen.
Communication is one of the most obvious challenges. When working from home, employees no longer have the option to drop by the boss’s desk to ask a quick question—instead, they must rely on digital channels to get their message across.
Leaders can tackle this problem by maintaining open lines of communication, such as through instant messaging software.
Similarly, leaders must learn how to keep diverse teamscoordinated, which can be difficult with employees working in different spaces and even different timezones. Cloud-based work and project management software can make this easier.
How to prepare students for the future of leadership
The best way educators can prepare students for the future of leadership is to teach them practical skills in a real-world setting.
Through meaningful and relevant projects, students can exercise their developing leadership skills and learn to solve problems in real-time. Students will also develop critical Professionalskills for effective leadership, including:
An ability to manage feedback and criticism positively
Communication and interpersonal skills
For example, a student could take control of a fundraising drive for a local charity as part of their chosen project. This student will learn to manage and coordinate a group activity, interact with their community, and inspire others—key leadership skills.
PBL’s focus on the student’s voice anddecision-making fosters creativity, independence, and understanding preparing students for the future leadership challenges discussed above.
How Practera can help
The King’s Careers Team were looking for virtual project learning opportunities that would grow their students’ future leadership and employability skills whilst also provide workplace insights and engage students with the industry. But managing real-world projects with industry clients is costly & difficult to do at scale. King’s Careers deployed multiple two-week virtual industry projects powered by Practera, in which student teams responded to client project briefs in a virtual environment.
Through Practera’s industry experience programs, not only did the students grow their virtual leadership and teamwork skills, but more than 87% of the student participants were willing to recommend the program to their peers, and 90% felt that the program had made a real impact on their employability skills.
Through Practera, your students can connect with local and global organisations to enjoy the same compelling and engaging experiences, building crucial skills for the future of leadership.
Our project learning platform and programs have all the digital tools and features you need to deliver transformative project-based learning experiences and give your students a competitive advantage in the workplace—including comprehensive analytics, 360-degree feedback, and detailed progress and performance tracking.
Why Experiential Virtual Reality Learning is a Game-Changer for Higher Education
Modern students are more immersed in technology than ever before, using it to study, work, socialise, play games, watch movies and TV shows, and so much more.
Universities are taking advantage of this love of technology to create engaging learning experiences in the virtual world. Students can enjoy new and fascinating experiences across amazing digital landscapes through virtual reality hardware or VR.
In this article, we’ll discuss how and whyvirtual reality learning has exploded in popularity in recent years. We’ll go into detail about its benefits before sharing how you can use the technology as a powerful educational tool.
What is virtual reality learning?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment. Using virtual reality hardware, users can interact with this image or environment in a believable way.
Augmented or mixed reality is a similar type of simulation that blends real and virtual worlds. A popular example is the mobile gamePokémon Go, which overlays 3D images of Pokémon characters over real environments.
Over the past few years,virtual reality learning has become increasingly popular in higher education settings, especially for training. Some universities use the software to teach students about complex topics likeanatomy, chemistry, and physics—but it can also help with learning practical skills likecooking andfurniture assembly.
In 2020, the University of Nottingham introduced the first educational module taught entirely in VR. Each week, 50 engineering students visit a virtual ‘island’ for miniature lectures and seminars, helping them learn first-hand about VR’s applications in technology and product design.
In this way, VR is a fantastic option for bringing students together during remote andhybrid learning.University of Nottingham student Rebekah Kay embraced the “veil of anonymity” VR offers, encouraging students to share their views and speak up in class more confidently. Kay also enjoyed the engaging and immersive feeling of ‘in-person’ learning VR offers.
Universities around the globe have also used VR technology to:
Teach anatomy through a 360-degree video experience, allowing students to explore body systems through different angles and perspectives.
There are many reasons why virtual and augmented reality is so engaging. Firstly, it creates a unique, novel experience distinctly different from what students are used to—andnew activities are a powerful way to stimulate and inspire students’ minds.
Secondly, researchers have found that virtual reality canboost positive emotions and improve memory among young and bright students. According to a2018 study published in Research in Learning Technology, students using VR reported higher engagement and an improved learning experience over non-VR users.
As we touched on in University of Nottingham student Rebekah Kay’s message above, the semi-anonymity of VR education can encourage shy students tospeak up and become more engaged and focused in the classroom environment. The feeling of beingfully immersed in the digital world also offers a significant engagement boost.
Hands-on,experiential learning is one of the best ways to keep students engaged in classroom content. It also increases interest, promotes teamwork and communication, and helps students feel more confident and secure in their abilities.
Virtual reality also offers hands-onlearning experiences where true physical interaction isn’t possible, covering everything from STEM education to humanities. For example, engineering students can safely explore the inner workings ofindustrial machinery, while culinary students can experience baking in a high-pressure kitchen environment.
Creates realistic experiences
Virtual reality has now evolved to a point where the line between the physical and digital worlds has blurred. Virtual experiences areconvincing enough to offer the same benefits as genuine hands-on work.
Traditionally,educational simulations may have involved a student sitting in front of a screen and watching a video. The student may have used a controller or a series of buttons to interact with the screen.
With virtual reality, the student is fully immersed in the digital experience. They can turn their heads to explore the world,use their hands to pull a lever or flick a switch, and physically walk to move around the virtual environment. This level of interaction makes the virtual world feel significantly more realistic than atraditional educational simulation.
Encourages inclusive classrooms
Virtual reality is also paving the way for moreinclusive classroom environments. Because of its highly immersive and adaptable nature, it can break down barriers and provide new opportunities formarginalised groups.
VR proponents have also highlighted its particular benefit for pupils living inisolated communities. They can use the technology to access support systems and build reciprocal relationships with other learners, educators, and employers.
Immersive education in VR provides unique opportunities for distance learners to connect andcollaborate in real-time. Because of the realistic nature of the virtual world, working with other students can have the sameauthentic benefits as a real-world group activity.
Usingcollaborative VR software, students canmeet in the virtual space, chat through speech or text, and even shake hands! Too, students can create an avatar to represent their likeness or express their creative thinking.
One example of a collaborative virtual reality tool isThe Wild. In this immersive learning environment, engineering andarchitecture students can work together to design, analyse, and review projects. It is a powerful way for students to create and visually present models without needing to meet in person or invest in expensive tools and equipment.
According torecent research, VR technology is central in reshapingcreative work among adults. As a brand new medium for creators to work with, it is likely to respin and redefine narratives students and educators have followed for decades.
In a virtual world, students are more likely to explore,experiment, and try new things without the fear of making mistakes. With no real-world implications if something goes wrong and no safety issues to worry about, truly, the creative opportunities are limitless.
Builds industry-ready students
Many higher education institutions now use VR to teach studentsjob-ready skills. The technology is especially beneficial for any student learning to work inhazardous or inaccessible environments.
For example, theBank of America recently switched from traditional ‘click-through’ eLearning methods to virtual reality training. These VR experiences teach employees how to open accounts, conduct service calls, and other essentialjob skills.
Students can use the same educational technology tobuild skills before entering their careers, impressing employers and giving them a serious leg-up over other applicants.
Is virtual reality the future of education?
Whilevirtual reality headsets first entered the consumer market in the early to mid-1990s, the technology saw an explosion in popularity in the late 2010s. Today, VR is available at anaffordable price point, making it accessible to more students and learning institutions.
A2019 study published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education found virtual reality technology could potentially play an integral role in future pharmacy education. Researchers noted that additional software and technological development are necessary for this to happen.
Another2019 study published in the Future Healthcare Journal shows similar findings. According to medical education researchers, VR is a cost-effective and reliable way to deliver on-demand clinical training and reach learning objectives. The study noted that VR technology will transform how institutions deliver education to clinicians in the future.
It’s clear that virtual reality will enormously impacthow students of the future learn. As technology develops, we’ll see more opportunities for these innovative devices to revolutionise education and training.
How Practera can help
Practera’s powerfulexperiential learning platform and managed services makes delivering immersive and engaging virtual reality learning experiences easier. Using the platform, you can author and seamlessly deliver VR adventures custom-tailored to your student’s interests and needs. By connecting with our team, we can help connect your projects with industry leaders and support your students throughout the program with a dedicated program manager.
Virtual internships are also one of Practera’s unique offerings that help students connect with employers and undertake remote hands-on learning. By connecting students with companies, Practera can help you deliver real-world experiences in a scalable, cost-effective way that is sure to engage students.
You can also easily measure student performance through the platform’s 360-degree feedback, pulse check, and analytics dashboard features.
Learning Through Experience: The Value of Immersive Learning in University
All educators know how difficult it can be to keep students motivated and engaged. The lack of real-world experience in traditional classrooms can lead to boredom and disinterest.
Today’s students long for more realistic, engaging content directly connecting to their coursework.
Thankfully, the immersive learning revolution is here. VR headsets, AR devices, and other tools give students a life-like experience with in-depth videos and simulations that drop them right into the action, creating a unique and unforgettable learning experience.
Are you ready to break up the monotony in your classroom and make learning fun again? This article will tell you everything you need to know about the value of immersive learning in university and how you can use the method with your students.
What is immersive learning?
Immersive learning is a process of teaching that engages learners in an interactive,experiential way. The process usually occurs in virtual and augmented reality environments, although there are other ways to apply the technique, such as through videos and simulations.
Immersive learning is a fantastic way to teach diverse skills, including public speaking, medical procedures, machine repair, and many more. Higher education institutions also use the method to teach more general topics like literature and history.
According to a2007 study by the University of Wollongong, immersive learning aims to achieve something known as cognitive realism.
In contrast to physical realism, cognitive realism describes a sensation that mirrors reality. While these sensations are not physically real, they are convincing enough to evoke genuine reactions in the brain. For example, a person riding a roller coaster in virtual reality may experience the same ‘stomach dropping’ feeling as they would during a real ride.
An immersive approach to teaching has many benefits for students and educators, including higher engagement, increased motivation, and improved learning outcomes.
What does an immersive learning environment look like?
As mentioned above,immersive learning environments usually involve augmented reality, virtual reality, or other simulations. In a classroom, teachers will typically assign a VR headset or augmented reality device to each student—although many institutions choose to outsource.
Thanks to the power of modern technology, there’s no limit to how immersive learning environments can look. Pop on a VR headset, and you can find yourself in another country, another planet, or another universe entirely!
Many immersive learning environments aim to simulate a scenario relevant to a particular set of skills. For example,engineering students would benefit from interacting with 3D models on a virtual construction site. This approach eliminates expensive equipment costs and the danger of working inhazardous environments.
Types of immersive learning technology
Now, let’s go into more detail about the different kinds of immersive learning technology and their higher education applications.
Virtual reality describes a computer-generated simulation of a 3D image or environment. Using a headset or a similar device, users can interact with the environment in a seemingly real, physical way.
Most virtual reality devices have additional peripherals allowing users to interact with the simulated environment. These peripherals include handheld controllers, treadmills, and wristbands. Users can also move around in the virtual world by walking within a defined area.
Today, people typically interact with virtual reality technology in the form of gaming.Virtual reality games involve everything from exploring a simulated world to shooting enemies.
Increasingly, however, universities and colleges are using the same immersive technology to provide unique educational experiences, including:
Augmented reality (AR) is ahybrid approach that involves adding a digital ‘layer’ to the physical world. Rather than replace the real world with a simulation, as virtual reality does, AR enhances a person’s current perception of reality.
AR works by superimposing computer-generated, 3D images over a user’s view of the world—usually through mobile devices such as a smartphones or tablets. This creates a composite outlook where virtual and physical reality blend together.
Augmented reality has many applications within the educational sphere. Students can use the technology tovisualise anatomy, experiencehistorical events, build 3D models, and much more.
Mixed reality (MR) combines physical and virtual space, like augmented reality. It usually requires a headset that projects live images onto the physical plane and unlocks meaningful interactions.
Mixed reality is a unique and exciting way to experience life. It unlocks intuitive and novel ways for people to interact with the world around them.
While augmented reality involves superimposing 3D images over the physical world, mixed reality takes things further, creating an entirely new environment where physical and digital objects co-exist.
The most popular example of MR is theMicrosoft HoloLens headset. These ‘smart glasses’ allow users tocollaborate with remote colleagues, complete tasks with voice commands and hand tracking, and access real-time information.
In the educational sphere, MR can help students:
Visualise and interact with architectural models
Undergo immersive physician training with holographic patients
Explore thenight sky and identify planets, satellites, constellations, and stars
360° film is a highly effective immersive learning method that doesn’t require specialised technology; you only need a smartphone, computer, tablet, or TV. It is an engaging form of storytelling that allows the viewer to explore the artificial environment from any angle.
Like the other immersive experience technologies, 360° has many applications, including military training, journalism, and entertainment. During the video experience, users can move their phone or mouse to explore different parts of the scene, so it feels like they’re there!
A2021 study published in Smart Learning Environments found that 360° video benefits students and educators, enriching the learning experience, satisfying emerging educational needs, and increasing motivation and active participation.
What’s the difference between immersive and experiential learning?
By this point, you’ve likely connected immersive and experiential learning. And we can’t blame you! The two techniques share the same goal—to increase engagement by involving students in meaningful, real-world scenarios.
Its virtual nature is the key point differentiating the immersive learning experience from otherexperiential learning methods. It involves using technology to simulate real-life scenarios, while the other methods involve physical interaction with the outside world.
How can focused immersion improve learning in higher education?
While immersive learning is wholly virtual, it still offers many of the same benefits as other experiential learning techniques. Let’s go into more detail about some of these benefits now.
Fosters learning through experience
Learning through experience is crucial for university students. It allows them to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios and realise the genuine impact of their work.
Virtual andaugmented reality lets learners experience lifelike scenarios where physical interaction isn’t possible, such as hazardous or distant environments. Because there’s no need for specialised equipment, it’s also much more affordable and accessible for universities.
One unique benefit of immersive learning is its ability to plunge students into an entirely different world—a place free from noise, chaos, and other distractions. With their headset, students can become completely immersed in the virtual environment and focus on the task—leading to higher knowledge retention and a better learning experience overall.
Promotes user-centred learning
User-centred learning is a teaching process that makes the student the focus of the educational experience. It ensures each student achieves their unique learning objectives and desires by considering their unique strengths—and, according to a 2004 study, is a fantastic tool for building student commitment and engagement.
Thanks to immersive learning’s versatility—and its avatar-creation features—every student can enjoy a personalised experience relevant to their needs.
Improves knowledge retention
Knowledge retention describes a student’s ability to retain and recall knowledge. It is an essential skill for students hoping to succeed in university, pass exams, and impress future employers.
A2018 study on virtual reality learning found, compared with traditional instructional methods, that immersive education enhances spatial interaction capability and promotes knowledge retention among adult trainees.
Immersive learning strategies
Immersive learning strategies can boost engagement and motivation. Give these tips a try to implement immersive learning in your classroom!
According to the Entertainment Software Association,67% of American adults regularly play video games. It’s fun, rewarding, and motivating—three factors we need more of in education!
Gamification aims to enhance the learning experience through rewards, points, and other game-like features. Immersing your students in virtual learning games encourages participation, boosts engagement, and sendsmotivation through the roof.
Simulations are a fantastic way to provide students with real-world experience without needing to leave the classroom. It’s an especially great method for buildingemployability skills by immersing students in a virtual workplace.
Educational simulations can also build soft skills such as empathy, as a 2014 study on nursing students undertaking virtual patient interviews found.
You can offer simulations in your classroom by designing relevant instructional scenarios and enhancing them through augmented, virtual, or mixed reality tools.
While delivering virtual reality experiences in your classroom may seem out of reach, it is now more accessible thanks to organisations offering discounts and funding for universities.
You can also use mobile VR headsets connecting with a student’s smartphone, significantly reducing costs.
How Practera can help
Practera’s immersive learning platform has all the features you need to seamlessly design and deliver powerful immersive learning experiences. Using our specialised tools, you can achieve everything from creating custom learning pathways to accessing real-time analytics about student performance. When connecting with our team to access our project-based learning managed services, not only can we connect your students with global leaders to engage in real-world experiences, our platform also ensures you can monitor and track student progress throughout the course of their program.
It’s easier than ever to measure performance with the platform’s smart progress tracking tools and 360° feedback features—all of which you can access through our intuitive mobile or web apps anytime.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. With our project-based learning managed service, we can also help you implement valuable real-world learning experiences with global organisations to prepare your students for the workforce.
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,
Chat-based collaboration tools,
Detailed progress and performance tracking for formative assessment.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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 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:
Many games are fast-paced and engaging, making them a great method for delivering microlearning experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We also support helping your students gain real-world microlearning experiences with our managed services, helping you connect with global organisations to deliver effective programs with relevant projects that best suit your needs.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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!
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.
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:
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.
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 as well as our project-based learning managed service. Using the software, you can access real-time insights about student performance, track progress, and share 360-degree feedback from a single pane. By connecting with our team, we also offer services to help connect you and your students with global leaders for real-world projects and experiences, with access to performance dashboards to monitor progress.
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.
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.
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 ablended 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 sharedasynchronously 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
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 andexperiential learning without compromising their time.
Efficient resource use
One of the biggest benefits of hybrid learning is that it allows for more efficient use ofteaching 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 theirown 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.
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.
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.
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.
Because today’s students demand more varied andengaging 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.
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 thedigital space, too. One example is usingvirtual 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 throughmeaningful, 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.
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. We also offer a project-based learning managed service to help you and your students gain real-world experiences with global organisations with projects best tailored to your needs.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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 and managed services. The software makes learning delivery seamless thanks to its custom experience design features and extensive template library. By connecting with our team and accessing our managed services, we can ensure your projects are connected with global organisations with continuous support for your students from a dedicated program manager.
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 and managed services could help you. Alternatively, you can download our white paper to discover our latest research into online project-based and experiential learning.
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