Experiential education is when educators engage with learners using direct experiences to increase knowledge, develop skills, and help students engage their communities. This is a way for students to apply the theory they learn into action, where they combine their academic studies with community service and reflect on their experiences. This produces a deeper understanding than what they learn through classroom education alone and encourages critical thinking as well as a practical application of knowledge in real-life situations.
So how does this apply to online events?
Students find that they are better able to connect what they learned to real-world situations through experiential education, making it easier for them to retain the information they learn. This is especially relevant for students who are struggling to focus on their online classes, as including experiential education can help them concentrate on the event instead of feeling disconnected in virtual spaces.
Now, what are some simple strategies that people can include in their online events to make them more exciting and memorable? Here are five basic things you can try to encourage student engagement:
Bring in group activities. Get everyone connected by incorporating group activities. Instead of doing classwork or just listening to lectures, you can use activities such as escape rooms in breakout rooms or Jeopardy-style game shows with educational themes that encourage everyone to work together while developing their problem-solving skills.
Encourage engagement between participants. Discussions with one another help students develop emotional intelligence and team-building skills. Use breakout rooms for greater intimacy and share a Google Jamboard where students can collaborate and bring their ideas together. Don’t forget to tell everyone to turn their cameras on if possible to encourage human connection.
Connect what they learn with their lives. The reflection component is crucial for experiential learning because it helps students think about what they gained from the event. Ask questions that make them think about how the event will be relevant to their lives so that there is a greater chance they will retain what they learned.
Incorporate physical movement. This can be as simple as dance parties or stretches and exercises. This is one way of keeping them active and engaged; it can also break them from the monotony of staring at a screen and bring some adrenaline into their system. This can also be beneficial for those who favor kinesthetic learning.
Bring in mindfulness exercises. A short meditation exercise or mental health check-ins are a way for students to be more self-aware. Being aware of their mental state can help increase focus and would help participants engage with the activities.
 Miano, A. (n.d.). What is Experiential Education. Association for Experiential Education. https://www.aee.org/what-is-ee.