Memorial is hosting the International Experiential Learning Institute (IELI) on the St. Johns campus May 21-23.
IELI is a professional development opportunity for those working in experiential learning in post-secondary education environments.
Organized and hosted by Memorials Career Development and Experiential Learning (CDEL), in collaboration with the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) and NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, the institute is hosting more than 40 professionals from across Canada and the U.S.
IELI was created to provide professional development for educators from a variety of areas in post-secondary education. It also aims to encourage and connect an international community of experiential learning practitioners.
Experiential learning is, essentially, learning by doing. It is the journey we take students on as they participate in different experiences, said Jennifer Browne, director, Career Development and Experiential Learning, Memorial University. This approach encourages students to apply what they are learning in class and other campus activities to real life situations; it helps them to make sense of theory and concepts by putting them into practice. A key component of experiential learning includes a reflective element; students are learning, doing and reflecting, which enriches their academic and professional experiences.
Ms. Browne and her colleagues from NACA and NIRSA have identified a need for professional development in this growing area.
There are few professional development opportunities in experiential learning in Canada, and no program like this anywhere, said Ms. Browne. In partnership with NACA and NIRSA, we saw the need for like-minded university and college professionals from different backgrounds to get together and examine best practices, assess current programs, explore ideas and theories, and to build national and international partnerships.
Inspired by this need, the institute was conceived and a successful inaugural event was hosted at Memorial in 2013 with more than 40 participants from seven provinces and 18 states. The 2014 institute is pleased to have Dr. Susan Komives as its scholar-in-residence and will emphasize experiential education and how this kind of learning relates to campus engagement and student leadership. Attendees will meet professionals from other institutions, learn how student engagement can be supported through experiential learning and gain skills to develop effective experiential learning practices on their campuses.
During the three-day IELI, participants are immersed in the history and culture of the city of St. John's and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The approach to the institute itself is one of experiential learning, said Ms. Browne. We link the institute to local culture, values and place. Participants experience Newfoundland and Labrador while learning, doing and reflecting and also honing their skills.