How fun is virtual learning? It can be tiresome, stressful, monotonous and boring at times. But it can be made fun. Want to know how? Imagine that you are having a class on food and farming and you have been told to grow a plant of your own in your balcony or any other available space. You have to observe it growing every day and maybe even try using various methods of growing the plant. You also have the help of experts who can share the know-how about farming like aerating the soil, sowing, watering, role of manures and fertilizers, and so on. Or imagine having photography class wherein you are told to photograph as basic thing such as a piece of any cloth and share the image with your class.
You will be surprised to find the various ways in which different people have perceived the idea of cloth and how they have captured it in their camera. You will also be surprised at the way different students have grown their plants. Although you all were told to do the same thing the result is never the same. Wouldn’t it be really fun to learn this way rather than mug up theories about growing plants or exposure of a camera? This method is also a very enriching process for knowledge enhancement as you try to experiment with yourself as well see things from the perspective of your peers.
In fact, these are examples of experiential learning. Simply explained, it is learning that happens through carefully chosen experiences supported by reflection, critical analysis, and synthesis. It emphasises that that mastering a new skill or gaining expertise is a continuous process and follows a learning cycle.
It is a widely acknowledged fact that active learning with it being challenging, relevant, public, and collaborative to create deeper engagement and meaning irrespective of whether it is in a face-to-face classroom or online is how students learn best. Therefore it is of no doubt that providing space for students to maintain the same level of inquiry, reflection, and the scaffolding that is available in a physical setting, as well as build scope for students to share their narratives, is an important part of our shift towards virtual class settings.
Making experiential learning work in online classes is not a difficult task and it can be done while designing the lessons by drawing from the rich social and environmental fabric that each student is a part of and use the home, the family, and the neighbourhood to create relevance.
This can also be applied to developing critical skills like literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, perseverance, social engagement, and mastery of the subject. A learning environment coupled with synchronous sessions and options for differentiated learning, be it through individual guided reading or writing sessions or individualized attention in breakout rooms will make learning a fun activity and the nature of teaching and learning in a virtual setting will drastically change.