5. Experiential Learning Conference

As DeM Experiential Training Center, we were at the 5th Experiential Learning Conference held in Cleveland Ohio on 22-23 June 2017.

The fifth Experiential Learning Conference led by the Institute for Experiential Learning and Learning Community in Practice, led by David Kolb and Alice Kolb, took place in Cleaveland, Ohio, USA. The conference took two days, carrying out studies on experiential learning methodology, bringing together academicians, institutional educators, coaches and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

The fifth Experiential Learning Conference was held in Cleaveland on June 22-23 this year. It was an exciting experience for me to take part in this conference, especially to meet David Kolb and Alice Kolb. I wanted to share this experience and the highlights of the conference in this article.

Wisdom and Modesty

David Kolb and Alice Kolb can be said to be a lot, but I think if I wanted to introduce them in two words, I would say wisdom and modesty.Two important scientists, who have guided their long-term and great-working work to educators around the world, have a very humble and friendly personality as they are. In the opening speech of the conference, David Kolb said he was retired from Case Western Reserve University and added; ”I’m retired, but there’s always something new to learn.“This word; the theory of the owner of the promise that we sometimes “we know enough” that the educators remind us of the error.

New Nine Learning Styles

Experiential learning styles updated by David and Alice Kolb now consist of 9 styles. The new model offers a more detailed perspective on the learning style compared to the previous 4 learning styles and also extracts the individual’s learning flexibility index. In the youth and adult education studies, the educators who use the theory of experiential learning often need to look at the new learning styles in depth. This is because we design the methods and debriefing sessions that we use in education to cover learning styles as much as possible. In this sense, the new 9 style holds a more detailed projection for us educators in order to create programs that will cover learning styles in a maximum way.

New Book: The Experiential Educator

David and Alice Kolb’s new book “The Experiential Educator” was published. This book, which was shared with us at the conference, presents a holistic summary of David and Alice Kolb’s work so far. The book, which is a guide for all educators who want to use and use experiential learning theory and methodology, has compiled for us the thoughts of scientists from William James to John Dewey, from Carl Rogers to Paulo Freire, within the framework of experiential learning theory. Another highlight
of the book is the Educational Role Profile. Just as each individual has his own learning style in the experiential learning cycle, the instructors also have their own unique teaching style. Of course, each educational role profile also has strong ties to learning styles. It is possible .to buy ExperientialEducation, a bedside book for educators, from Amazon.

New Book: How You Learn Is How You Live

Another recent development in the field of experiential learning shared at the conference is David
Kolb and Kay Peterson’s book “How You Learn is how you live”. The book examines the reflections of experiential learning on our personal and professional lives for both educators and all individuals. The book guides us through how we can design our own learning journey and how we can overcome challenges by using the experiential learning formula in the lifelong learning process. In addition, the book emphasizes the importance of learning flexibility and puts the concept of learning into a much broader and inclusive framework. Those who want to buy the book can buy it from Amazon

Experiential Learning and The Pedagogy of The Oppressed

I had the opportunity to take part in the conference and Share our recent work as Dem international network. Training of Trainers for the first time in 2016 held in Turkey in which you have worked together for the Experiential Learning and Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed. We have seen the important results of approaching the programs prepared with experiential learning methodology from a Freerian perspective and also using experiential learning methods in Freire’s dialogue and advanced literacy studies. Perhaps the most important of these results was that the trainers began to make a deep personal criticism about whether or not they established a subject-subject relationship with the learners and whether they were following a banker training model, especially when they were conducting learning needs analysis.

In the session I took at the conference, I shared this study and its results with a newly developed simulation game that explains this approach. The participants experienced what kind of problems both educators and learners experienced in the top-down training programs. The feedback I received after the session made me very happy. Very valuable sessions were taken at the conference. I would like to share with you some of these sessions where I learned a lot from each.

Homeless With High Potential

Dale Hartz is the founder of Better Future facilitators, who supports the empowerment of homeless
people to become entrepreneurs. Dale implemented a very interesting simulation at the conference.
He distributed a role card to all participants. Some of us are homeless, some of us are owners, some
of us are charity volunteers who help the homeless. And throughout the game, everyone interacted
with each other to make their life better. The crucial point of the game was when we learned that
the characters we played were actually real people. I was playing a homeless guy who just got out of
prison. Hearing about what that person actually did and what he did, increased my respect for that
person and for what Dale did. Dale uses this simulation to share their work and success stories. It was
an inspiring work for me. I will definitely implement this method in a program. For more information
on Better Future Facilitators:  www.betterfuturefacilitators.org

Online Experiential Learning

Mai Trinh, an associate professor at Arizona State University, shared how she practiced experiential learning in online courses. On the online learning platform, mai allows students to interact with each other, and she asks students to photograph objects that express their own lives and then share them with each other about these photos. Online education systems allow students to communicate closely with each other, unlike traditional one-way communication flows. Mai also shared examples of applications that combine technology and experiential learning. The most interesting thing was the application of viral glasses and experiences that were given to individuals. Software and educators have designed such a viral spectacle that the person wearing the glasses sees itself as another identity and feature. For example, when a white-skinned person wears glasses, he sees himself as black, and a weak person sees himself as overweight. Stating that group work was done in this way, Mai emphasized that this practice strengthened empathy. Mai’s share of me pushed me to think about the future of non-formal education. Are we going to use only games to create artificial reality, or will we be able to capture fast-growing technology?

Disney Storyboard-Management and Experiential Learning

Divya Sriram, shared how she used the storyboard method in coaching sessions. The method proceeds in the form of dividing the experience into small pieces and painting important moments. And in the next session, by looking at the previous pictures, both the past can be recalled in more detail and development can be seen as a holistic process. In order to be able to reflect in depth in the experiential learning cycle, the experience needs to be remembered in detail. Divya used this method in the conference's evaluation section and it was very effective. Especially in long programs where we use experiential learning method, this method will help to make the cycle more complete.

Theory and Practice

There is one thing we frequently complain about in the field of youth and adult education where we use experiential learning methodology; the theory of learning methods is that employees are mostly out of practice and those who practice methods on the field are mostly out of theoretical knowledge. At the experiential learning conference, I saw that theoretical and practical studies were carried out together. I once again thought that practical practitioners in the field of education in Turkey and Europe and those working academically should collaborate more. As Dem, we need to work harder to establish a link between the academy and the field. While completing this article, I share my impressions of the conference, I think I should give a special thanks to Kay Peterson and the
Organization committee. It seemed that there was a great effort behind this conference, and they brought us together for an unforgettable experience. In close cooperation with the Dem international network and the Institute for experiential learning, we also had the opportunity to talk about what we can do together in the field of European Youth and adult education and have produced valuable ideas. We hope to turn all these thoughts into reality and come up with great projects.

Yazar: Mustafa ERDOĞAN

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Mustafa ERDOĞAN

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