Enhance Research Projects for Students with Experiential Learning

Enhance Research Projects for Students with Experiential Learning

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

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

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

What is experiential learning?

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

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

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

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

Let’s make things clearer with an example.

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

Some other examples of experiential learning include:

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

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

Experiential learning within group projects

How experiential learning helps with research projects for students

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

Facilitates real-world experience

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

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

Accelerates learning

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

Integrates theory and practice

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

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

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


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


Boosts engagement

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

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

Encourages feedback and reflection

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

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

Fosters a collaborative environment

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

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

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

Active learning in experiential learning

Implementing experiential learning in a student research project

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

Fieldwork

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

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

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

Internships

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

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

Simulations

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

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

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

Team projects

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

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

Students undertaking research project

How companies can benefit from student research projects

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

Save time and money on market research

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

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

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

Uncover unique and useful insights

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

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

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

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

Discover opportunities for your business

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

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

Experiential research projects with Practera

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

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

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


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


How Collaborative and Experiential Learning Foster Professional Growth in Higher Education

How Collaborative and Experiential Learning Foster Professional Growth in Higher Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is collaborative and experiential learning?

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

Purpose

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

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

Some common examples of experiential and collaborative learning activities include:

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

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

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

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

Growth and popularity

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

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

Collaborative and experiential learning

How does this approach foster professional growth in higher education?

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

Real-world experience

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

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

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


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


Interactive learning

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

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

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

Exposure to different perspectives

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

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

Improves communication and leadership skills

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

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

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

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

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

Student undertaking experiential learning

Reflection and feedback

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

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

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

More benefits for educators and higher education institutions

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

Higher course completion rates

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

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

Ownership over projects and tasks

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

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

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

Active engagement and performance

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

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

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

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

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

Use of project-based learning

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

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

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

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Collaborative workspace

Implementing experiential and collaborative learning with Practera

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

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

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

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

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


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


 

How Gamified Learning Increases Productivity and Engagement in Higher Education

How Gamified Learning Increases Productivity and Engagement in Higher Education

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

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

What is gamified learning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing students for the workplace with experiential learning

How gamified learning increases productivity and engagement

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

Enriched learning experience

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

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

Increased desire to learn

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

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

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

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


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


Stronger knowledge retention

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

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

Diverse learning methods and materials

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

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

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

Active collaboration

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

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

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

Project based learning

How you can implement gamified learning in your classroom

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

Point systems

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

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

Gamified grading

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

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

Challenges and projects

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

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

Leaderboards and badges

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

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

Educational gaming platforms

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

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

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

Work Integrated Learning (WIL)

Make gamification simple with Practera

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

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

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

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


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


 

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Adults

The Importance of Experiential Learning for Adults

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

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

What is Experiential Learning?

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

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

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

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

Some examples of experiential learning activities universities could offer include:

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

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

Adults using experiential learning methods

The Benefits of Offering Experiential Learning Experiences

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

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

Create real-world relevance

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

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

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

Accelerate learning

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

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

Provide opportunities for collaboration

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


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


Why Your Adult Learners Need Experiential Education

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

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

Real-world experiences

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

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

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

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

Opportunities for deep reflection

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

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

Active learning in experiential learning

Active experimentation

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

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

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

Leadership and collaboration

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

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

Initiative and accountability

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

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

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

Why Experiential Learning is the Future for Higher Education

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

Bridge the gap between theory and practice

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

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

Personalise learning experiences

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

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

Prepare adult students for success in work and life

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

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

Implementing experiential learning with adults

Implementing Experiential Learning with Practera

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

Some of Practera’s key features for educators include:

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What skills are students currently learning?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Hard Skills

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

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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

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

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

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

Coding

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

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

Cloud computing

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

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

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

hard skills that increase employability

Blockchain

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

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

UX (user experience) design

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

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

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

Soft Skills

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

Critical thinking

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

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

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

Emotional intelligence

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

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

soft skills that increase employability

Communication

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

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

Leadership

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

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

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

How Practera can help

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

What is project-based learning?

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

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

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

Different types of project-based learning

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

Some popular approaches to project-based learning include:

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

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

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

Project based learning

Why is PBL important for students?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Exposure to a collaborative environment

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

Solving real-world problems

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

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

Student critical thinking using project-based learning

Developing critical thinking skills

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

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

Cross-cultural experiences

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

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

Building communication skills

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

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

Accessing feedback and reflection

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

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

Students becoming industry-ready

How universities can implement online project-based learning

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

Some online project-based learning examples include:

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

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

Online project-based learning with Practera

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

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

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

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


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


Experiential Learning in Higher Education: Why It Works

Experiential Learning in Higher Education: Why It Works

What Is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is an innovative educational pedagogy that embraces action, experimentation, and personal reflection. It sees the learning process and its outcomes not as two separate issues, but as interwoven parts of a whole.

Educational theorist David Kolb published his first Experiential Learning Model (ELM) in 1984. It revolves around four key elements:

– Concrete or practical experience,

– Reflection and observation,

– Creation of abstract concepts based on these observations and reflections,

– Testing these new concepts.

Today’s higher education administrators are making experiential approaches like work-integrated learning more prominent in university curricula. Why? Because by doing so, students will gain vital skills for their future careers and everyday life.

Is experiential learning suitable for higher education?

Experiential learning in higher education settings is tremendously effective. Rather than sitting through lectures and exams, students gain applied, direct experience with industries and environments related to their faculty.

Through this hands-on approach, students become more engaged with the subject matter, learn more effectively, and build life and career skills to prepare them for the world after graduation. Higher education institutions and educators also benefit from increased retention rates, better engagement, and improved career outcomes.

Experiential learning in higher education - student studying

What does experiential learning activities look like for university students?

Experiential learning in higher education can be either hands-on or virtual, making it accessible even for institutions unable to arrange in-person visits or physical learning sessions.

For example, IT students can benefit greatly from building a computer, placing, and connecting each part one by one. But many universities can’t afford hundreds of systems for students to work on. Instead, institutions can invest in virtual software that simulates computer building, offering students a similar experience at a lower cost.

Project-based learning is another way universities can offer experiential teaching. Some examples include:

– Fieldwork,

– Service learning,

– Studying abroad,

– Volunteering at a local not-for-profit organisation,

– Participating in a business accelerator program,

Interning for a local small business,

– Growing a student garden.

Which students benefit most from experiential based learning? Is it suitable for all faculties?

Experiential learning in higher education aims to help students engage more deeply with the content while discovering new skills, interests, and abilities. This type of learning is especially beneficial for students who struggle with traditional education.

We can explain this concept better with David Kolb’s learning style model, which are:

– Diverging, i.e., feeling and watching,

– Assimilating, i.e., watching and thinking,

– Converging, i.e., doing and thinking,

– Accommodating, i.e., doing and feeling.

Students who fall into the ‘Diverging’ and ‘Assimilating’ categories benefit more from traditional learning approaches, which involve observation. They may learn best through idea generation (i.e., brainstorming), group work, verbal or written explanation, and personal feedback. Students in these categories can still benefit from challenging and expanding their learning styles through experiential learning.

Students with the ‘Converging’ and ‘Accommodating’ learning styles will benefit most from experiential learning. These students enjoy finding practical solutions and prefer hands-on experiences.

These learning styles exist across all fields of study—there is no limit to experiential learning’s many benefits.


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


Benefits to Students

Now, let’s discuss some key benefits experiential learning in higher education offers students.

Practical use of subject matter

Students gather plenty of information through lectures, watching videos, attending workshops, and taking quizzes. However, experiential learning in higher education has a clear advantage over these approaches—it drives a deeper understanding of concepts, demonstrating how they apply to real life situations.

For example, a student studying engineering could learn some skills through traditional testing—but imagine how much more engaged they’d be if they could work with a physical model, such as a gearbox, and manipulate its parts with their hands. By observing, thinking, and planning their interactions with the gearbox, students will learn a great deal more than they could by taking notes.

Deal with complex new situations

Experiential learning in higher education is not just about choosing experiences that interest students—it’s about actively engaging with difficult or complex situations to learn from them. By taking on tasks students may find intimidating or scary, they can develop coping strategies to prepare them for the working world’s many challenges.

Learn new skills

Through experiential education, students can build skills relevant to their future careers and daily lives. Not only will they learn more about their industry, but they’ll also develop essential soft skills such as:

– Teamwork and communication,

– Interpersonal skills,

– Self-confidence,

– Initiative,

– Conflict resolution,

– Leadership qualities,

– Time management,

Learning agility,

– And much more.

Engaging and robust learning design

With Practera, students can experience the best practice templates, custom authoring & library tools. They have the freedom to design and curate their own exclusive program portfolio, whether this be for internships, team projects, accelerator, mentoring, or skills credentialing. Through powerful AI technology powered by real-time analytics, the platform ensures their experiential learning is efficient with seamless delivery and feedback loops as well as personalised.

Experiential learning in higher education - students learning

Benefits to employers

As part of experiential learning programs, many students take on internships, service learning experience, or work placements with local businesses. By participating in these programs, employers enjoy many benefits.

One example is the pair of fresh eyes a student can bring to a business. Many industry stalwarts become so absorbed in their workplace’s everyday practices; they may miss potential changes or additions that could take their business to the next level. These diverse perspectives are exactly what a student can bring!

Benefits to higher education institutions

Institutions also benefit enormously from implementing experiential learning in higher education settings.

One of the greatest benefits for higher education institutions is the rise in student engagement and retention rates. Learning outcomes shoot through the roof when educators can gather an entire class’s attention—and hold it indefinitely. This rise will see immense improvements to an institution’s employment outcomes.

How can higher education institutions offer their students work-integrated learning?

Offering work-integrated learning to students is easy, especially with Practera’s dedicated experiential learning platform. Using this innovative software, institutions can design, deliver, and monitor all kinds of projects, including:

– Internships where students plan, reflect, and seek feedback on tasks

Work placements with practical and experiential learning

– Industry projects and assessments for students to reflect and improve their skills

– Work simulations that engage students in simulated scenarios to build skills

– Mentoring innovation accelerators to develop and validate ideas

– Credentialing programs where educators review and apply credential competency evidence against a skills framework

Experiential learning in higher education - experiential learning

The benefits of using Practera for your WIL programs

Monitoring progress and outcomes

Practera’s platform makes offering experiential learning in higher education a breeze

You can see:

Participant engagement stats,

– Project progress,

– Student reflections and feedback,

– Student questions and educator responses.

This information can help educators gather a 360-degree view of each students’ progress from one touchpoint, so they can offer tailored and timely support.

Quality feedback to enhance learning outcomes

Using Practera’s innovative platform, students, educators, and employers can connect and communicate in one place. Students can receive highly personalised feedback from educators, peers, and industry leaders, helping them deeply understand their progress.
Even better, you can offer feedback across every project stage, unlike traditional learning, where students simply receive a final grade. In this way, the feedback students receive is incredibly valuable and will genuinely enhance their educational outcomes.

Easily assess educational outcomes

It’s simpler than ever to assess educational outcomes with Practera’s experiential learning platform—educators can see beyond the traditional confines of letter grades and percentages and pinpoint where students excel or fall behind.

For example, you can set up assessments and analyse student performance down to a tee through the assessment management module. This way, you can discover how your students have responded and understood where they might need extra support.

Advanced technology enhances user experience

Practera’s advantaged technology makes the user experience better for students, educators, industry representatives, and institutions alike. The platform’s innovative gamification feature, for example, keeps students engaged by making learning more exciting and achievement oriented.

You can also use Practera’s chat-based collaboration system to stay connected across the board—you won’t need to worry about important information getting lost in a sea of emails ever again.

Discover the difference today

Ready to get started with Practera? Discover how experiential learning in higher education could benefit your institution, students, and educators by downloading our white paper today—or connect with us online to chat about how we can help your students excel.


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


Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning

Are you looking to boost graduate employment outcomes within your learning institution? Experiential learning is the answer.

But—you might be wondering—what is experiential learning, and how does it boost graduate employability? Is there any proof of a connection between the two?

We’ll answer these burning questions and more in this article. 

What is graduate employability?

Graduate employability is the ability of a student to find a job following graduation. More specifically, it is the degree to which students can use their skills and knowledge to find work.

A range of factors can affect graduate employability rates, including economic conditions, cost of living, job availability, graduates career prospects, and university prestige.

So, how can universities help students find employment after graduation with all these factors to consider? And at the same time, what can students do to improve their chances at securing work?

It’s all about employability skills.

With relevant skills, knowledge, and experience under their belt, students are well-equipped for finding work after graduation. 

Some examples of employability skills include:

One of the best ways universities can instil employability skills in their students is through experiential learning. We’ll talk more about this educational approach in the next section of this article.


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


What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is a teaching method based on the idea that learning happens through experience. While it may seem like a fancy phrase for “learning by doing”, the approach is a proven educational philosophy surrounding the concept that students learn best when engaged in active, hands-on, meaningful, and relevant activities.

While you can apply experiential learning to many aspects of life, it’s becoming increasingly popular in higher education settings.

To help you better understand what experiential learning is, let’s walk through some examples.

  1. Architectural students are learning about topography. Rather than researching the subject online, the students visit a real building site and physically take topographical land measurements using surveying equipment. In this way, the students gain real, hands-on experience with the subject, have higher retention rates, and will have a better chance at finding an architecture graduate job.
  2. Art students are learning about anatomy. Instead of studying from a book, the students take life drawing classes and actively reflect upon and receive real-time feedback as they paint. In turn, the students learn to think critically and manage feedback about their work.

Recent studies have found that experiential learning and employment outcomes are deeply connected. For example, a 2014 study found experiential learning enhanced employability for business and management students, while a 2019 study found experiential learning improves employability, progression, and prospects of engineering graduates.

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Collaborative workspace

Ensuring the degrees you offer enable graduate employability

Regardless of a student’s course of study, there are ways to implement experiential learning. The examples in the section above are only two of the endless options available for universities hoping to improve graduate outcomes.

Ideally, the degrees your institution offers should provide students with real-world experiences relevant to their chosen careers. Of course, not all students studying the same course will have the same future plans—that’s why it’s critical to involve students in curriculum planning as much as possible.

With experiential learning approaches, students choose activities and topics relevant to their interests and preferred field. In this way, students absorb and retain information more readily and are equipped with their skills to find work after graduation.

We’ll go into more detail about how your institution can achieve these goals in the next section.

3 ways universities can boost graduate employability

Let’s talk about three key ways universities can boost graduate employability.

1. Make your courses workforce-relevant

Many university courses focus on academic skills without clarifying how the skills relate to working life. To create employable graduates, institutions need to build job-ready skills and prepare students for the reality of the workforce.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through work-integrated learning (WIL), a branch of experiential education. Through WIL, students gain on-the-job experience through volunteering, internships, job simulations, or other forms of hands-on work.

2. Provide a dedicated portal to jump-start careers

Providing a dedicated portal is a fantastic way for universities and students to take control of employment outcomes. This portal could be a learning and employment hub where students can view relevant jobs for graduates, brush up on their hard and soft skills, and connect with employers, educators, and peers.

Practera’s experiential learning platform is an example of a dedicated portal that can help students jump-start their careers. Among other features, the platform streamlines connections between students and employers, helping them network and build lasting working relationships.

3. Double down on lifelong learning

Learning shouldn’t end when students graduate. It’s critical to instil an interest in lifelong learning within every student, helping them understand that upskilling is essential for career success.

The best way universities can achieve this is by giving students control and autonomy over their work, allowing them to guide their approach to their studies and gain confidence in their ability to learn new skills.

How experiential learning can boost graduate employability

There are two main approaches within the experiential learning sphere—work-integrated learning, which we discussed above, and project-based learning. These two approaches can boost graduate employability in distinct ways.

Through WIL, students gain skills deeply relevant to their chosen careers. They gain real, hands-on experience with their field of work and can network with industry experts and leaders.

On the other hand, through project-based learning (which involves engaging in hands-on, long-term projects), students can build skills relevant to work and everyday life. These abilities assist in preparing students for challenges they may face as they enter the working world and make them more appealing to potential employers.

Boost Graduate Employability with Experiential Learning - Graduate working

How work-integrated learning works

Work-integrated learning is a type of experiential learning that allows students to get hands-on experience in their field of study. It also provides them with a chance to connect what they are learning in the classroom and what they are experiencing at work.

Universities can offer WIL through:

Work-integrated learning for graduate employment

Implementing work-integrated learning to improve graduate employment outcomes is simple. It’s all about offering the right kind of WIL depending on the student’s preferred career path.

For example, engineering students could benefit best from fieldwork, while students seeking computer science graduate jobs might prefer work placements or internships. You should also consider each student’s unique learning style and offer opportunities to suit.

For help with choosing the best WIL opportunities to enhance employment outcomes, an experiential learning platform like Practera can help. 

How Practera can help learning institutions deliver powerful experiential learning opportunities

Practera offers a broad range of useful features through its dedicated learning platform, benefiting students, employers, institutions, and educators alike. Institutions can connect students with industry leaders and authentic experiences, projects, and internships through the platform.

Delivery is simple. Educators can choose from premade templates built around the best experiential learning opportunities or create a custom experience through Practera’s flexible configuration capabilities.

The platform also offers additional features like adaptive learning pathways, assessment management tools, peer review features, analytics, and much more, making it easier than ever for institutions to boost employment outcomes through valuable learning experiences.

Kick start your experiential journey in 2022 with Practera today. To find out more, connect with our team for a discussion, undertake a demo or download our white paper here

How to Prepare Graduates for Employment in Our Ever-Changing World

How to Prepare Graduates for Employment in Our Ever-Changing World

In today’s world, the way we work is rapidly changing. With modern technologies on the rise, the growth of remote working, and ever-evolving global expectations, how can higher education institutions help graduates succeed?

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can prepare graduates for employment and help students achieve their goals as they enter the working world. We’ll also discuss the connection between experiential education methods—like project-based learning—and graduate employability.

Teaching employability

The skills, knowledge, and experience students need to find employment after graduation are changing. More than ever, employers are seeking graduates who can think critically, solve problems creatively, develop innovative strategies, and communicate with confidence.

A recent study found that, across industries, employers want graduates to have a range of employability skills, including:

But as educators and higher education institutions, how can we impart these important values in students? How can we ensure students fully absorb our teachings and carry them into working life?

How to prepare graduates for employment - student learning

Keys to success

With the rise of the gig economy and changing demands, many students graduate from college without jobs in their field. This can be a scary time for students, but it is also an opportunity for educators to take control and help scholars develop skills that will bring them career success.

The number one way you can help students is by preparing them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to break into their chosen industry. In the next section of this article, we’ll highlight eight effective ways to boost employment outcomes within your institution


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


8 ideas to help get your students job-ready before graduation

1. Research the industry landscape and know your goals

Before students start applying for work following graduation, they should set clear, actionable goals. They should also know as much about the current industry landscape as they can—such as the latest trends, news, and practices—before they begin their search.

When graduates demonstrate they have completed in-depth research, it shows employers they are:

  • Passionate about what they do,
  • Skilled in their industry,
  • Understand which role or company would suit their skills best,
  • Serious about starting a career.

Similarly, setting goals improves a graduate’s job prospects because it helps them focus on what they hope to achieve and gives them a clear path to follow. Graduates keenly aware of where they’re heading enter their field with heightened confidence and a stronger drive to succeed.

2. Do some targeted volunteering

Volunteering offers students a fantastic opportunity to build up their CVs, develop transferable skills, and gain experience in their chosen field. Soon-to-be graduates also enjoy the chance to network and build an early repertoire with industry leaders and experts.

As a bonus, volunteering allows students to give back to their community and demonstrate their passion and dedication to potential employers.

3. Write a tailored resume

Today’s employers look for candidates with resumes tailored specifically to the description. Explicitly, employers seek applicants who are:

  • Committed to the job they are applying for,
  • Experienced in their chosen field (either through volunteer work, passion projects, or internships),
  • Knowledgeable about the company,
  • Aware of the job’s unique requirements.

A tailored resume helps a graduate stand out from the crowd and is more likely to persuade employers to request an interview. Especially in highly competitive fields, it’s not enough for graduates to send a default resume off to multiple employers—they’ll need to know how to craft a relevant application for each position, insightfully repeating keywords and phrases included in the job listing. 

How to prepare graduates for employment - students learning

4. Take advantage of career services

There are a host of reasons why students should take advantage of their university’s careers service. First of all, they’re there to help! Through existing networks and insider relationships, a careers service can connect students with relevant job opportunities and provide access to invaluable tools like:

  • CV reviews,
  • Interview coaching,
  • Employability and skills analysis,
  • Extra education and courses,
  • Internship or work placement opportunities.

As educational leaders, we should encourage students to use these services as often as possible to maximise their chances of career success.

5. Internships often lead to work

Work-integrated learning opportunities such as internships are a powerful way to help students find a paid position following graduation. Not only do these opportunities allow students to explore different career paths and gain valuable experience, but they can also lead directly into permanent work.

Some other unbeatable benefits of internships, whether virtual or in-person, include:

  • Students can gain a clearer idea of what kind of work they’d like to do in the future,
  • Students gain industry experience and transferable skills,
  • Students participate in projects to add to their resume or portfolio,
  • Students make connections with leaders in their field.

6. Start networking early

It’s never too early for students to start networking while studying at university or college. The earlier a future graduate starts, the better prepared they’ll be when it comes time to look for a job—so make sure your pupils are well aware of the immense benefits.

Educators and higher education institutions can promote networking by providing access to work-integrated learning programs such as internships and volunteer work. These programs are fantastic for connecting students with industry spearheads and helping them grow their networking skills.

7. Be social media savvy

In today’s digital age, graduates need to understand the importance of social media. Social media savviness is an essential skill regardless of a student’s chosen career path—be it HR, marketing, or electrical engineering!

But why do today’s employers so seek social media skills?

Well, today, social media is the best way for people and businesses to stay connected, share information, and swap services. Also, many businesses now use social media for internal communications and sharing critical information with employees.

So, to make sure your students are ready for a digitally-driven workplace, include social media studies in all course outlines. 

How to prepare graduates for employment - student learning remotely from home.

8. Develop a plan of attack

Without guidance, students might apply to every job they come across, regardless of their skills and qualifications. This approach can lead to disappointment and discouragement down the line.

Instead, encourage your students to discover their strengths, decide which industry they’d like to work in, and apply for graduate positions that align with their plan of attack. This method is more likely to lead to success and help students build confidence throughout their job search.

Experiential learning is the process of acquiring knowledge and skills through hands-on, relevant experience. It focuses on long-term projects and tasks related directly to a student’s skills, interests, and chosen career path, including internships, class projects, field research, work placements, volunteer opportunities, and more.

This type of learning prepares graduates for employment because it helps them:

  • Develop transferable skills,
  • Learn more about their industry,
  • Gain confidence in their field,
  • Meet industry experts, 
  • Gather valuable and pertinent experience,
  • Discover their strengths and interests.

Executing experiential learning methods within your institution is guaranteed to help prepare graduates for employment in the modern world. The quickest and easiest way to achieve this is through an experiential learning platform like Practera.

How Practera can help

Practera’s innovative platform helps educators deliver broad educational experiences covering work-integrated, project-based, and experiential learning. Using the platform, teachers in the higher education sector can connect students with employers, industry leaders, internship opportunities, and much more, helping bridge the gap between graduation and stable employment.

Practera’s platform offers range of instrumental features to make experiential learning delivery seamless, including:

  • Flexible powerful and customisation,
  • Comprehensive template libraries,
  • Whitelabeling tools,
  • 360-degree feedback,
  • AI learning assistants,
  • In-depth analytics,
  • Chat-based communication,
  • Much more.

To learn more about what Practera’s platform can do for you, download our white paper or contact our connect for a discussion today.


Learn more about Experiential Learning and how real-world experiences can better prepare students for employment 


Using Experiential Learning to Develop Career Readiness Skills in Your Students

Using Experiential Learning to Develop Career Readiness Skills in Your Students

To succeed in today’s competitive working world, students need more than basic qualifications—they need a range of skills to help them get their foot in the door and advance through their career ranks.

Experiential learning is one of the best ways learning institutions can build career readiness skills in their students boost employment outcomes. But what exactly are these skills, and how can experiential learning help develop them? 

You’ll find all your answers and more in this article.

What Are Career Readiness Skills?

Career readiness skills describe a set of abilities and expertise to help a person fulfil their needs as a student, employee, or business owner. They’re essential for anyone hoping to take control and reach goals in their professional and personal lives.

Job readiness is key to success in today’s workforce. It can help people find a job that fits their interests, improve their understanding of the skills they need, and help them develop their strengths.

In today’s competitive job market, many companies look for candidates who offer more than basic qualifications. Developing these vital skills can make you stand out from the crowd.

Some of the most important employability skills include:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking 
  • Creativity
  • Data analytics
  • Digital literacy
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Learning agility
  • Diversity (culture and identity)
  • Flexibility/adaptability in a changing environment
  • Financial literacy/money management
  • Future-oriented thinking
  • Problem-solving

Current Career Readiness Standards

As the working world changes and evolves, so do the skills necessary for career readiness. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with these changes to maximise a student’s chance of success in their chosen industry.

The Australian Blueprint for Career Development highlights the current career readiness standards in our country. The three main career management competencies are:

  • Personal Management, which involves maintaining confidence positive self-esteem
  • Learning & Work Exploration, which includes participating in lifelong learning
  • Career Building, which involves making career-enhancing choices and passing career assessments

Learn more about Experiential Learning and how real-world experiences can build students career readiness skills.


What Is the Skills Gap and How Does Career Readiness Address It?

The ‘skills gap’ describes the difference between the skills needed to complete a job and the availability of those skills in a given talent pool. 

Employers may require specific skills for a job listing, but if there aren’t enough qualified applicants to fill the role, unemployment rates can rise.

Thankfully, career readiness offers a manageable way to address the skills gap. When educators focus on instilling vital soft skills, students are more likely to meet an employer’s requirements.

Career Readiness Skills

7 Career Readiness Skills That Make Your Students Stand Out

The global economy is changing and employers are constantly looking for applicants with strong, well-developed, and career-relevant skills. Let’s discuss some of these skills now.

1. Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are crucial because they help prepare individuals for what the future might hold. 

These skills also help new college graduates understand how to react when situations don’t go as planned, preparing them for when they need to seek new opportunities or change careers.

  1. Oral/Written Communications

Communication skills are more vital than ever in today’s world. Whether you are interviewing for a job, speaking in front of a large audience, or just having a conversation with a friend, these skills need to be honed.

Oral and written communication skills are crucial because they allow us to express our emotions and ideas without the use of words. By building these soft skills, students can develop stronger collaborative relationships and move forward confidently in their working lives.

Today’s job market requires people who not only have strong verbal communication skills, but also the ability to write well and present themselves professionally.

3. Teamwork/Collaboration

Our modern workforce strives to stay connected and keep up with the working world’s ever-changing needs. In order to do so, it’s crucial for employees to have a variety of skills that can help them adapt and become more effective in the workforce—with teamwork and collaboration being essential.

A team with high morale, a supportive culture, and the skills necessary to work together well is more likely to thrive and deliver the best results.

4. Information Technology Skills

With the rapid advancement of technology, more and more companies are looking for people with IT skills. Applicants with cutting-edge knowledge in information technology, software engineering, and data science are all in high demand.

IT skills help in job readiness as they can prepare individuals for a degree or certificate programs they may need on the job.

5. Leadership

Many people think of leadership as an innate skill, limited to those only with natural charisma and confidence—but that’s not the case. Leadership is a teachable skill like any other!

Well fleshed-out leadership skills allow individuals to communicate, inspire teams, and consistently deliver results. For example, a leader needs to know how to prioritise tasks, manage workflow, and deliver feedback effectively so employees feel supported throughout their experience in the company.

6. Professionalism/Work Ethic

Work ethic and professionalism are also crucial skills in the workplace. Let’s discuss what they mean and why they matter.

Work ethic is all about following a personal code of conduct and acting in accordance with personal values. The skill also includes being punctual, taking an interest in others, being willing to learn new skills and going above and beyond expectations. 

In a similar way, professionalism is all about displaying a set of values, ethics, principles, and ethical systems that govern professional practice. A professional will maintain a positive reputation and character to enable success in their future careers.

7. Career Management

Career management isn’t exactly a skill in itself, but rather a set of skills and abilities that can help employees identify career goals and achieve career development. It’s the difference between powering through day-to-day tasks and taking real action to achieve career advancement.

Some core career management skills include:

  • Labour market awareness
  • Leadership
  • Inquisitiveness and initiative
  • Resilience
  • Creativity
  • Career planning

Career Readiness Skills

What Is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is a way of teaching or learning that draws on firsthand experiences, interactions, and interventions. It is different from traditional educational pedagogy in that it encourages learners to participate in the process rather than passively experience the material.

David Kolb, an American psychologist and educational theorist, developed the experiential learning model in 1948. He believed knowledge arises through experience—a theory that still holds true today.

Experiential learning has become an increasingly popular method of teaching. Career readiness experts believe that experiential learning can improve students’ ability to find meaningful work and boost their competitiveness in the talent pool.

Different types of Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a type of education that uses real-world experience as the main medium to teach students. It can take many forms, from hands-on learning in fields like engineering, to more traditional studies such as academic analysis or art classes.

Work-integrated learning is one branch of experiential learning—it involves students learning real-world skills in an office, studio, workshop, or another working environment. Project-based learning, on the other hand, is all about involving students in hands-on, long-term projects.

Here are some examples of how institutions can deliver experiential learning:

  • Working with a mentor in a non-profit organisation,
  • Teaching an English class while living abroad,
  • Participating in a laboratory experiment,
  • Joining an internship program,
  • Working at a restaurant over the holidays.

How can Experiential Learning help develop students’ career readiness skills?

Experiential learning is an approach to education that involves students engaging in activities and gaining real-world experience in a particular field. This can help students develop the professional skills needed to succeed in their careers.

There are many ways to implement experiential learning in your classrooms. You could have students work as interns at different real-life companies, or you could have them volunteer at local community organisations. In this way, students can develop skills highly relevant to their chosen industries, along with general career readiness abilities.

For example, let’s say a student wants to start a fundraiser to support their local soccer club. They’ve put together a small team to help them bake goods and build a stall to sell their products. They’ve also made flyers to place around the university, promoting their fundraiser.

Through this project, the student will gain several critical skills for career readiness, including leadership, planning, collaboration, communication, and marketing skills.

Getting your students involved with experiential learning

Getting your students involved with experiential learning is easy— especially with a specially-designed platform. Practera’s learning management platform makes delivering learning experiences easy, including internships, work placements, projects, simulations, and more.

Delivering experiential learning can be as simple as a class project or as complex as a technology-driven work simulation. No matter how you choose to enrich your students, Practera’s platform is the way to go.

Using a learning management platform to help students develop skills

Practera’s innovative platform offers an all-in-one solution for delivering and managing hands-on learning experiences. It’s the ideal way to attract and retain students, enhance employability, grow industry engagement, and reduce delivery costs in further education.

The platform’s useful features include:

  • A template library to help you get started with delivering experiential learning.
  • Customisation to help you author any kind of learning.
  • 360-degree feedback from peers, educators, and industry.
  • A comprehensive analytics dashboard displaying clear, actionable results.
  • Chat-based collaboration tools to help students, educators, and employers stay in touch.

Start delivering innovative learning experiences today

Experiential learning is one of the best ways to prepare students for the working world. By delivering varied and hands-on learning experiences, universities can instil vital skills and values in their students, including leadership, collaboration, teamwork, future-oriented thinking, digital literacy, and much more.

The simplest and easiest way to deliver these modern learning experiences is through a platform like Practera’s. To find out more about what our platform offers, download our white paper here—or contact us online to request a FREE platform demo.


Learn more about Experiential Learning and how real-world experiences can build students career readiness skills.


Let’s talk

Submit a project

Submit a project brief to gain access to student teams around the world at no cost.

Connect for a discussion

Contact us for a discussion around how Practera can help you deliver your experiential learning vision.