“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Experience-based learning has always been a well-known education model, dating back to the Middle-Ages when apprenticeships were often the only way to learn a specific craft. Nowadays, more and more colleges are adopting this approach in the form of experiential learning programs, bringing real-world experience to students in the classroom.
Even though modern tools and processes have changed radically since Ben Franklin’s time, the above quote remains true to this day. Experiential learning turns standard textbook learning into real-world action by applying the principals learned in the classroom to a specific business’ problem and lesson. There has been an increase in these college programs recently due to the ‘win-win’ nature benefiting both students and businesses. According to Northern Illinois University, experiential learning programs are referred to using many different terms, including:
- learning through action
- learning by doing
- learning through experience and
- learning through discovery and exploration
While, historically, lectures have been and remain the popular form of teaching at colleges, more hands-on and collaborative teaching methods are growing in popularity. Experiential learning programs give students the real-world experience needed to transition successfully into the business world. Being able to tell a future employer that you collaborated with a real company to help develop a business plan is a powerful addition to a portfolio/resume and story to tell during an interview.
Programs like University of Michigan’s Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) create the perfect firsthand experience-learning model. According to umich.edu, “MAP is a signature, defining element of the Ross MBA program. Students in four- to six-person teams, guided by faculty members, tackle a complex business problem for a company or nonprofit. Students expand their skills and develop their leadership abilities; sponsors get usable recommendations from top minds at minimal expense.”
Part of University of Michigan’s MAP program includes:
- Articulating long-term strategic plans
- Identifying a path to profitability
- Developing venture capital strategy
- Evaluating current brand efforts
- Assessing social media strategy
- Finding global market entry opportunities
- Analyzing compensation structure
- Streamlining manufacturing facility operations
“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein
With the right amount of experience and access to the right data, students are able to get a step ahead into the business world they will soon enter.
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