Experiential Learning Lunch & Learn Series reflects on the past to engage student learning in the present

By Rachel Braun, Program Specialist: Experiential Learning

Since Fall 2018, the Taylor Institute Experiential Learning Lunch & Learn Series has invited members of the campus community – both academic and non-academic – to learn how colleagues across campus are incorporating experiential learning into their teaching. Thanks to the generous contributions of time and expertise by the facilitators, the Series was well acclaimed by experiential learning practitioners at the University of Calgary. Recent sessions reflected on how knowledge of the past can impact student learning through experience in the present.

Design studio: A century of experiential learning 

In the March session, Professor Barry Wylant of the Faculty of Environmental Design toured participants through the rich heritage of design studios as experiential learning in postsecondary education. From 11th century medieval guilds to 18th century École des Beaux-Arts to 20th century Staatliches Bauhaus, learning-by-doing has evolved in tandem with the ideas and materials of the era. With digital transformations of ideas and materials in the 21st century, the potential of the studio approach to effectively serve experiential learning higher education research is only heightened. Throughout these evolutions, the heart of studio is:

  • Place: A place of hands-on creation/generation, experimentation/iteration, and reflection on design/on process
  • Course: A time-intensive and project-based course with tight student-instructor ratios
  • Pedagogy: An effective and flexible pedagogy to address the wicked complexity in design problems

Connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners

In the April session, Dr. Yvonne Poitras-Pratt and Dr. Patricia Danyluk, both of the Werklund School of Education, shared ways they have brought experiential learning to students enrolled in the “Indigenous education: A call to action” graduate program. This program and their subsequent research have illuminated the importance of trust and praxis-based learning opportunities in building stronger connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, schools, and communities. Being an ally along the path of reconciliatory learning requires going beyond vocalizing support. Reconciliatory actions such as Listening to and Learning From, Walking With and Learning From, and Working With and Learning From Indigenous peoples have the ability to ripple across time, space, and place. Of the many transformational ways Werklund students have been impacted by experiential learning in this program, Dr. Poitras-Pratt and Dr. Danyluk reflected most on changes in students understanding of the importance of relationships with and within on-reserve schools.

Learn more about experiential learning happening at the University of Calgary

Learn more about experiential learning at this year’s Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching, Exploring Experiential Learning. There is special pricing for University students, staff, and faculty. Registration deadline is April 17.

The Taylor Institute Experiential Learning Lunch & Learn Series will continue in Fall 2019.

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