Applied Learning – What it is and Why it Matters

According to the State University of New York (SUNY) Applied Learning is defined as Students apply knowledge and skills gained from traditional classroom learning to hands-on and/or real-world settings, creative projects or independent or directed research, and in turn apply what is gained from the applied experience to academic learning.

Applied Learning has been around forever, but it became most closely tied to Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the last 5 – 10 years as the acceleration of in-demand technical skills started to grow and it was clear that the more traditional higher education model could not or would not meet the demand (definitely a well tread topic on the transformation of some areas of higher education to address these needs). Applied Learning is essentially learning by doing. It allows people to practice doing something to get better at it. That practice tends to be in a lower stakes environment or a higher stakes environment with varying levels of supervision and safety.

It might only be addressed in high stakes situations, but an important aspect of Applied Learning is imagery – or the attempt to recreate the full sensory experience of doing something with the goal of getting better – think sports performance which has been using visualization and imagery since the 1960s. That full sensory experience allows people to not only improve their physical movement, but to experience how their body and mind will react to the task. Exposure therapy is another practice that uses this approach for those that have experienced trauma or have a phobia.

LearningTimes has been running a program using 3D Immersive Worlds (now conventionally known as the Metaverse) to introduce life skills lessons to neuro-diverse teens for 15 years! In “Citywide” students get to practice applying for a job, managing their own apartment, budgeting their money, and social interactions. Through their “Citywide” job and social events “in-world”, the environment allows them to be immersed in an experience that gives them all the opportunities to practice these activities. We’re excited to build on this work and continue to explore and try different ways of training with the goal of improving people’s lives. Let us know your experiences with immersive learning. Has it mostly come through newer technology like augmented reality or virtual reality or perhaps less tech driven methods?

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