People demoing experiential learning experiences in virtual reality

The benefits of experiential learning

Experiential learning has numerous advantages.


To begin, students may find it difficult to grasp topics that have little to do with the “real world.” Experiential learning allows students to use data and concepts in a real-world context in which they are also active participants. The knowledge becomes more real to the pupil as they interact with it.


Then there’s the ability to apply knowledge right away. Experiential learning allows students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world problems. Learners can experiment and alter their practice to attain the greatest results by putting their understanding of underlying principles, methods, and procedures to the test.


There’s also a focus on collaboration and communication. A breakdown in communication and coordination is the leading cause of medical errors. Because patient care is provided by a team, we should learn and practice in groups. Reading a book or listening to a lecture will not provide this experience. All that is required is to participate in practice.

The capacity to receive real-time coaching and feedback is another benefit of hands-on learning. Expertise requires experience and deliberate instruction based on what is observed during practice. Each and every different type of experiential learning engagement or activity should also include a one-on-one session where students receive help, feedback, and training from professionals and fellow team members.


It’s also worth considering building reflective practice habits. The gold standard in education is the person who can self-monitor the performance of his strategy, predict results, and develop contingency plans. “Experts” is a term used frequently to describe these people. Experts have more experience and have received more coaching than non-experts, as well as having incorporated specialized thinking disciplines into everyday practice. The journey from novice to expert is aided by experiential learning.


Finally, accomplishments are obvious with experiential learning. Learners can progress and know they have improved in as little as an hour because of the feedback loop created by problem-solving, feedback, and practicing again. Students in typical classrooms frequently do not know if they are on track until they take an exam and earn a grade.

The challenges of experiential learning

There are actually studies that have found challenges in experiential learning. These include inadequate educational venues and equipment, inexperienced instructors and technicians, failure to pay attention to parallel and supplementary experiences, and poor class management by instructors and technicians. All of which are preventable.

In addition to these challenges, there is also the risk of making mistakes on the job and the overall cost of training as it currently stands.

Types of hands-on learning (with examples)

Co-operative/internship based education

Internships are a convenient and popular way to gain hands-on business experience. Students can work on-site with professionals to learn what they enjoy doing and, more significantly, what they don’t! While earning credit toward their degree, students can learn about industry practices and market expectations. It doesn’t get any more interactive than that.

For example: A student studying permaculture could take on an internship at an urban farm, where they will physically take care of vegetation and animals.

Virtual Classroom - Chemistry.
History of eLearning Laptop with image of never stop learning written in chalk

A capstone project is a multidimensional assignment that acts as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students, usually in the upper years of their post secondary experience, or at the completion of an academic program or learning route. Capstone projects, which are not unlike final exams of thesis papers in some different ways, can take a variety of forms. However, the majority of such projects involve long-term on-the-job research that culminates in a final product, presentation, or performance. Because it immerses the student in their research, a capstone project is an excellent hands-on learning opportunity.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is the solution to traditional experiential learning challenges. Virtual reality is another means to put pedagogical techniques to the test in order to foster a more hands-on approach to learning. Teaching must change to reflect what and how students learn best, and incorporating technology into the equation is no longer an option, but a requirement. Virtual reality can be utilized for a variety of purposes, including taking children on field excursions to the Amazon Rainforest, assisting medical students with surgery practice, and much more.

This case study from PWC on co-operating education details how virtual reality can be used for soft skills training. Specifically, the study notes that digital training approaches with VR have become more prevalent due to remote work. VR training, specifically, can offer a cheaper way to train employees faster and with substantially better results.

In conclusion

Experiential learning is an integral part of every students learning experience. And fortunately there is a wide range of options available to deliver experiential learning.

Do you think virtual reality may be an interesting option to add to the experiential learning available at your institution? Send us a message and let’s talk!

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