Experiential learning is generally the process of deriving meaning and knowledge from direct, hands on experiences. This is a philosophy and methodology that engages the student in asking questions, active experimentation and finding solutions. The steps by which the process can be characterized involves Experiencing, Sharing or Processing the experience, Connecting with real world concepts and Planning or Applying solutions.
We see this process in many forms both inside and outside of the classroom: Internships, service learning, co-operative education, field experience, practice, cross-cultural experiences and apprenticeships are all examples of education that utilize the experiential process. In all of the examples, groups and individuals are guided by clear objectives that are discussed prior to and during the experience; and the process is marked by a special importance attached to reflection and active solution finding.
Useful and popular settings for the experiential process are Low and High Ropes Challenge Courses. Using a Low and High Ropes Course as a tool to create scenarios and opportunities for group and individual experience and learning.
The challenges of cooperation and solution finding will lead to growth and achievement during the ground level activities. And the high ropes course incorporates the elements of trust and risk into a discussion on confidence and achievement.
A ropes course experience should be guided by experienced and knowledgeable facilitators who work to tailor the program to promote the group goals; and who are skilled at working to establish and maintain a safe learning environment.