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Examining the Potential to Employ Experiential Education in Distance Learning Contexts

Demian Hommel

Proposed research abstract

The purpose of this fellowship is to conduct research on the potential to employ experiential education in distance learning contexts. Proximate learning—the (supposed) opposite of distance learning—is, according to some, where experiential, transformative learning happens. Indeed, the literal distance involved in online learning can be an important difference between it and traditional classroom settings. It’s possible, however, that many of the concepts used in experiential education can also be applied to distance learning contexts. At a fundamental level, all learners are proximate to somewhere, and it’s possible that a learner’s setting can be used as the field, regardless of its specific location. Through a review of what’s been written about the integration of experiential principles and distance contexts, an exploration of a few attempts to do this in specific courses or settings, and a summary and suggested practices and directions, this fellowship will contribute to an underutilized but potentially effective improvement in distance learning experiences and outcomes.

This project will be focused on three specific papers: 1) a review of the literature that explores both the best practices in distance learning and theoretical, meta-level examinations of the utility of experiential education to integrate experiential learning concepts in online courses, including the opportunities and/or constraints of these practices, 2) a focus on 3-5 case studies of practitioners who have attempted the experiential-distance integration, and 3) a summary and interpretation of possible future directions for the use of experiential learning concepts and activities in distance learning environments.

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