UNDERSTANDING THE GLOBAL WORLD THROUGH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Throughout history the way students have been educated has gone from the traditional lecture style to experiential learning offering students alternative ways of mastering the subject matter, encouraging them to foster a pro-active approach to problem solving as educators investigate further into how the students of today, whom we call the Millennials learn. This generation who grew up with technology, relying on it to perform their jobs better. They prefer to communicate through emails and text messaging rather than face-to-face preferring online technology over the traditional lecture-style presentations. They are more family and achievement oriented, confident, ambitious with high expectations and seekers of new challenges. They want meaningful work and a solid learning curve. They are group oriented valuing team activity, loyal, committed and who want to be included and involved craving attention by way of feedback and guidance, appreciating being kept in the loop seeking frequent praise and reassurance, and need to be engaged in the learning process.
Since the overall goal of college is to educate its students, it is evident that educators must look at teaching and learning in a different context. Education in a global world presents special, dynamic challenges. Experiential learning, which is the process of making meaning from direct learning, offers a positive way to work through this challenge which is an effective educational method that engages the learner on an individual level addressing his needs. Traveling to a foreign country is both exciting and a wonderful learning experience. It is a time to explore, experience and bring to life what has been observed through books and discussions. Prior to taking a required Core Curriculum course titled Discover New York a group of first-year college students had the opportunity to travel abroad. In order to appreciate New York City, one must go to the root of its architecture and observe the similarities within the structures. As the group traveled from city to city both abroad and then in NYC they were able to compare all that each city has to offer. With all the beauty within these great cities one must not overlook the common problem of homelessness where the students were afforded the opportunity to work in soup kitchens.
In order the students on their adventure, they were instructed to read several chapters from the book. A Traveler In Rome, by HV Morton. Over the next twelve days the students traveled to places such as Rome, Florence, and Assisi via foot,bus,and metro taking in all that could be absorbed in this ancient land. They were assigned in-class time each day where they researched the places that would be visited during their trip. Upon returning to NYC, the students read Downtown: My Manhattan, by Pete Hamill in order to set the stage of what they had to look forward to in the great metropolis of NYC. During the spring, 2011semester the students compared all aspects of their home town and that of the foreign land. The students were divided into groups where they created music videos and scrap books of their travels abroad and at home.
This paper will demonstrate how, through experiential learning while traveling abroad and throughout NYC, students realized a greater understanding of the global world. The paper will also illustrate how experiential education has afforded the students a great learning experience, which they will be able to discuss and recollect for many years to come.