The Power of Immersive Learning

January 8, 2020

Here’s a simple challenge: what’s your strongest childhood memory? We’ll wait. 

Got It? OK, so what makes that memory–in a brain utterly teeming with them–so vivid for you? Was it texture, an emotion, a distinct sound, or smell? 

That mosaic of feeling and sensations, the reason or reasons that recollection shot to the front of your consciousness, is the beating heart of Experiential + Immersive Learning. It’s seeing, hearing, and experiencing beyond a typical classroom or lecture-hall experience, the expected book learning, and lab work. 

But what is Experiential + Immersive Learning?

In short, Experiential + Immersive Learning is the process of learning through experience and applying what you’ve learned in an active environment. It’s how we teach across the entire university and every major because it’s how students learn. It’s what makes them sought-after candidates for careers or graduate work in the 21st century. Because they’ll leave here knowing how to collaborate, deduce solutions, and think critically on their feet. 

It’s a bridge between classroom theories and understanding how that knowledge works in the real world. 

“The purpose of immersive learning is to bridge the gap between the theories students learn in the classroom and how they apply that knowledge.”

Christopher Born, Ph.D.

WPU Director of Immersive Learning

Immersive learning is collaboration and problem-solving that transcends the hypothetical. Our students work with marketing firms and companies to find creative answers to real issues. So they solve problems while making critical connections. Every student here is required to do an internship. That’s right, 100% of our graduates will have one on their resume or graduate school application. And about 90% find a job within a year of graduating. 

Immersive learning is hands-on experiences around the planet. Ancient temples, exploring immigrant roots in New York City, and up close with endangered animal species, just to cite a few recent explorations. Professors are also given the freedom to invite experts and forge academic partnerships that will help students turn learning into knowing. William Peace University Experiential + Immersive Learning pushes each student’s mind with deep, effecting exposure to elements that will shape and solidify their future. 

It’s getting to do serious research, even as an undergraduate. And attend and present at conferences around the country, including the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the Association of Southeastern Biologists, and the NC Academy of Science. 

It’s the kind of learning that creates thoughtful leaders, not just graduates. It starts from the moment a student steps onto our campus. In fact, all first-time, incoming students experience two immersive learning activities during what we call Pathways to Peace Orientation in the fall semester. These experiences introduce students to the concept of immersive learning while getting them out of the classroom to interact around a range of subjects. And this level of immersion won’t stop until he or she is throwing a graduation cap in the air. 

Here are just a few ways that we use experiential learning at WPU:

  • Internships: We’re ranked #1 nationally for our internship program. In fact, more than 60% of students report landing jobs directly through their internship experience.
  • Mock Interviews: A lot of schools do mock interviews. We just do it better. For example, we go as far as detailing which fork you should use during a lunch interview – and we even practice it with you.
  • Study Abroad: Our students experience culture and globalization through study-abroad trips in places like Italy, Mexico, Qatar, and much more.
  • Student Research: A lot of institutions don’t allow their undergraduate students to participate in research. Good thing we’re not like other institutions. WPU students travel to participate in forums such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and much more.
  • Showcase: A conference-style event where our students display their semester research, performances, poetry readings, debates, cross-disciplinary creative projects, and much more.

The Center for Immersive Learning 

While Experiential + Immersive Learning happens in every building across our university, this center is square one. It’s an active learning space, totally flexible and technology-driven. Study rooms and whiteboards encourage students to work together. The Center is loaded with virtual-reality headsets, Go-Pro cameras, CAD technology, and charging stations everywhere you look. Beyond technology and structure, the Center invites industry experts to talk and challenge our students, and peer-to-peer tutoring is readily available. 

So, back to that memory of yours. 

What makes it so vivid, so rich, is exactly why Immersive Learning is so effective. It draws students out of their comfort zones, which opens their minds and creates emotional connections to what they’re learning. The path they will shape with it will enhance their lives forever––just like that memory has stayed with you. 

If Experiential + Immersive Learning interests you, please contact us to get a deeper sense of how this methodology might shape your time at William Peace University. We look forward to helping you begin what we believe will be an incredible journey.