Santa J. Ono

Chapter 1

Co-op 2.0: Why Experimental Learning Matters

  • Santa J. Ono University of Cincinnati (Chapter 1)
  • E. Gordon Gee President, West Virginia University (Foreword)

Chapter Overview

A mobile app to test for concussions. A job-training and job-readiness center disguised as a retail pizza parlor. An inexpensive way to make nearby water safe for hundreds of villagers to drink in a community in Tanzania. If this were a game of "Jeopardy," the winning question to these clues would be "What are three examples of the power of experiential learning?"

But the beauty of experiential learning lies in the fact that it’s not a game at all. It's not even a test. It's reality. And the question for the clues above could just as easily be: "Why does experiential learning matter?"

Because nothing else can substitute for the real thing. In the same way that a real orchid looks and feels more exquisite than a fake one, so is gaining knowledge by experience. Experiential learning is "exquisite learning." Think back to when you learned how to ride a bike or how to write your name, and you'll understand what this means. You had to learn those by doing. And doing so transformed your life. We need to make sure that more and more college students get the chance for the same kind of metamorphosis, especially in these times when the value of higher education is often questioned.

In his chapter, Ono describes the advantages that experiential learning offers, and urges college presidents to ensure that students and their parents understand it as well.

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