How can institutions enable experiential learning?
The learning and development process of the Gen Z is undergoing massive changes with the advent of technology. The education system, by fueling the evolution of teaching methods and tools used in the classroom has been driven by the demands of the digital natives, whose lives revolve around digital screens and connected devices. Devices like PCs, laptops and printers have become the functional extension of this generation, at school as well as home.
With the days of rote learning behind us, and demand for experiential learning taking precedence, academic institutions will have to majorly transform their teaching methods. A solid infrastructure is needed to overhaul the learning processes and create spaces that are conducive to experiential learning. Around 51% of students surveyed in a Barnes and Noble College study, show that they learn best by doing, while only 12% said they learn through listening.1 So how can institutions enable this “learning by doing” experiential methodology in the classroom?
With technology improving the overall attitude toward learning, now more than ever, schools and colleges will have to put in concerted efforts to create a learning environment that focuses on problem-solving. After all, the real world is full of challenges that needs quick thinking for solutions. To make Gen Z students understand the real-life application of what they learn in the classroom we need to blend online and print mediums in equal proportion. For example, if they are studying about the laws of physics, they are also required to understand the role and impact of these laws on everything around us. Introducing practical projects and assignments in the curriculum could come in handy for clear articulation of the concept.
The Gen Z students and their millennial parents have to get an easy access to new age tools and technologies to align with this new trend, which involves extensive use of print medium as complementary to its digital counterpart. After understanding the subject or concept, students should be encouraged and given an easy access to unlimited and curated knowledge which they can develop into a comprehensive, solution-led, creatively crafted print projects. Working on projects on their PCs and printing them out will help enhance critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills and at the same time, give them an opportunity to be creative.
Furthermore, like online tools in the classroom are important to ease learning, mistakes if any in the printed material will accelerate the entire learning process by teaching students to value mistakes, thus preparing them for the “real world”.
Not just in educational institutes, digital learning has also made its way into the professional world, wherein employees are reskilling and upskilling themselves to stay relevant in the job market. Companies must continue to encourage on-thejob digital training modules to fulfill their demand for skilled talent pool, which is currently lacking across sectors. Reskilling and online certification is currently the largest segment in online education which was valued at $93 million in 2016 and is expected to grow 463 million by 2021.
Digital learning goes beyond the four walls of educational institutes, reaching far and wide to those who want to learn on-demand, on their own time and even at their own suitable pace. Experiential learning complements this by giving an opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge in practical domains. With the lives of Gen Z revolving around technology, the expectation of having digital learning tools deeply integrated into the education system and at the workplace is obvious. From food to clothes everything is accessible digitally to them, why should learning be any different? Which is why they will continue to be a driving force in the innovation of new learning tools, teaching styles, and unlimited access to e-learning resources. This will not only create a generation of confident learners who are selfdriven, but also a youth, who are enablers of their own future.
(The author is senior director, Printing Systems and Solutions, HP Inc. India. Views expressed are personal)