What an Experience! Follow-up Notes from Our First Annual Experiential Learning Conference
It’s always fun to do something for the first time, and that’s the attitude we took throughout the planning and launch of our first Experiential Learning Conference this month.
Experiential Learning is a core part of our curriculum and learning design at TEL, and our goal with the conference was to begin building a network of relationships with like-minded educators. We wanted to bring together people from different backgrounds and segments of the education space and learn how and why experiential learning can make a difference in learner outcomes.
From the outset, we decided that a conference on experiential learning should be… well… experiential. It should facilitate a hands-on, lets-learn-together event. Even “information” sessions should be collaborative. Moreover, break and meal times should be designed to promote additional, meaningful sharing of our experiences with experiential learning.
Of course, what we didn’t know was whether or not people who attended such an event would embrace the experience the way we envisioned it.
- Would people embrace our group Breakout (escape challenge) session?
- Would people enjoy working together throughout an entire day on design challenges?
- Would attendees take advantage of the opportunity to share what they are doing and to learn from each other?
As it turns out, the answer to all of these questions was an overwhelming, “YES!”
It was exciting to meet people from K-12, higher education, and workforce training and to hear their stories and inspiring ideas about how to design engaging learning experiences that have a greater impact of the lives of students of all ages. It was also deeply gratifying to hear so much positive feedback related to our conference design and what people took away from the experience.
You can hear what some of this year’s participants had to say in this video.
We’re already making plans for next year’s conference and, thankfully, we have a solid foundation to build on. Next year we will add student-led sessions, a poster event, and plenty of more fun experiential sessions that help us all think creatively about how we can transform education in the U.S.
Let me close by saying thanks, again, to everyone who participated and made this year’s event so special. I am eager to expand our network and learn about the incredible experiences being designed across our nation.