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Learning through hands-on, immersive experiences

By: Broadreach HQ High School Dive + Sail , Middle School, High School Study Abroad, College, Parents, Scuba Diving, Sailing, Marine Biology, Vet Medicine, Photography, Spanish, Health + Medicine, Wildlife Biology

What is experiential education?

Experiential education uses direct experiences in the outside world as a means to explore, make sense of and come to understand larger, more complex topics. It encourages learners to interact with their environments and become more involved by exploring concepts and content through hands-on experiences. Immersive summer programs are a great example of experiential learning, and can include topics ranging from marine biology and animal science to medicine and scuba diving. Learning in this way engages individuals on every level – it joins together intellectual curiosity with ability to creatively problem solve, experiment, persist and collaborate. Learning becomes more holistic, meaningful and personal, and when complemented with traditional classroom learning, can really bring a subject to life.

The benefits

Being in an outdoor setting supports learning through discovery and also encourages spontaneity. The real world requires learners to be more flexible, open to and welcoming of disruptions. For example, if you are in the Amazon rainforest on Broadreach’s Ecuador and Galápagos biodiversity conservation program and you are learning about its ecology, you may suddenly hear the cry of a rare bird. While it may be an unexpected interruption, it’s also an opportunity to expand your knowledge. Follow the sound with your fellow students and discuss the bird’s interaction with its environment – what it’s doing, why it’s there and what its needs are. This opportunity offers a chance to develop a more complete picture of the rainforest’s ecosystem as a whole and incorporate all the resources it possesses into your understanding of how everything works together as a system.

At Broadreach, we encourage students (and instructors!) to continually discover and learn new things about the world in order to grow. Experiential education allows us to explore and learn about a subject in a new way that is more personally satisfying and meaningful, enhancing our abilities to become fully engaged and passionate about a subject, or an issue that needs help solving. Hands-on learning allows us to dig deeper and make sense of the world around us – the natural world is an optimal learning environment as it offers ongoing changes to observe, mysteries to solve and opportunities to think through in creative ways.