Informal learning serves students well outside the classroom

As important and highly recognized as formal education is in today’s society, too often real-world learning experiences are put on the back burner. On the other hand, going out and gaining learning experiences amongst one’s intended field of work is something that needs to be encouraged and participated  in more than it is now. One’s career path shouldn’t only be paved inside the constraints of classrooms walls.

Getting out and applying what’s taught in the classroom will, in turn, give a student more experience practicing what they’re studying in a legitimate setting.

Contributed photo by Olivia Belanger / Administrative Executive Editor

Contributed photo by Olivia Belanger / Administrative Executive Editor

We at The Equinox feel students should be encouraged to engage in more informal education and service-learning, especially in higher education.

This is not to take away from the value of formal education, but rather to show that informal learning is equally as important. Both have their own individual benefits to the learning outcomes of students going forward as they enter different career fields.

However, in reference to higher education, a stronger emphasis should be placed upon service learning, as its benefits are often times overlooked in some majors. Some majors incorporate this way of learning more than others. For those majors where students engage in this kind of learning less often, a push should be delivered so as those students are also given an opportunity to put forth their skills in a real world setting.

The University of Minnesota has a list of the benefits of service-learning published on their Center for Community-Engaged Learning page. According to the webpage, “Service-learning has potential benefits to everyone involved: students, faculty and the community.” That same site states, “Students in service-learning classes can benefit academically, professionally and personally.”

According to this site, a few ways to do this is through an increase in understanding of the class topic, exploring values and beliefs and growing a professional network through connecting with professionals. Much more can be taken away from such learning environments experienced through service-learning.

Adam Urquhart / Opinions editor

Adam Urquhart / Opinions editor

According to the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire’s website, some examples of service-learning are to “work on a Habitat for Humanity project constructing housing for families with low incomes, work with a public interest organization, conduct a conservation project at a park, lakeshore or nature center, or tutor elementary or secondary students in a variety of subjects.” Anything that gets a student out of the classroom and learning through first-hand experiences as opposed to reading about the experiences others have had in textbooks will expand a student’s comprehension of a given subject.

We at The Equinox recognize that some majors will incorporate real-world-learning by providing experiences for students outside the classroom more than other majors.

Sebastien Mehegan / Equinox Staff

Sebastien Mehegan / Equinox Staff

For example, many nursing students have first-hand experiences in a hospital or clinical setting and put forth the knowledge they’ve acquired inside the classroom. Education majors also are involved with service-learning through student teaching opportunities. Among these majors, students are able to receive real-world experience, while also gaining knowledge in an informal education environment.

For those majors that don’t require students to go out into the field and directly experience a method of service-learning, it is on those students to seek out such experiences on their own.

We at The Equinox feel this is a vital part of the learning process and it should be sought out by all students so they can expand their knowledge in their area of study.

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