Immersive Learning: A Guide to Building Long-Term Knowledge
Schools and colleges are formal institutions where students learn all the subjects through instruction. Different methods of teaching and learning based on sound theoretical research are implemented in classrooms. However, research shows that immersive learning gives better results compared to instruction. When a learner is immersed in a learning situation, real or virtual, partly or wholly, it is called immersive learning. A learning situation or environment is developed, and the learner interacts with it in real time. Examples of immersive learning are role pay, simulations, drama, activities, etc. through which various skills of students can develop.
Immersive learning is particularly beneficial in language learning or skill-based subjects. For example, a language can be best acquired when the learner is immersed in a real life situation in which the target language is in use. The situation is entirely natural; the student's need to communicate urges him to make attempts to produce the language. He may commit mistakes, but gradually he learns to communicate in the language effectively. It is called total immersion. In total immersion, the situation cannot be controlled and manipulated by the instructor.
A person who travels to a foreign land and does not know the foreign language, yet he is required to communicate with the residents. It is an example of total immersion.
In classroom instruction, the methods of teaching are teacher-centred as opposed to learner-centred. The teacher plays the pivotal role. The teacher or instructor decides what the learners will learn, how much they will learn and how they will learn. The teacher instructs and is active in the class. The learners are passive; they listen to the instructor and obey him. In immersion, the learners are active and interactive. Since they are part of the learning environment, they take a keen interest in the learning process. In a natural learning situation, the skills to be acquired by the learners depend upon the kind of learning environment. Sometimes, harmful and undesirable skills are transferred. When a teacher teaches how to speak in a foreign language by explaining the rules of grammar and teaching vocabulary in the classroom, it is an example of instruction.
The best practice is to take combined advantage of teaching and immersion. It is called partial immersion. In this technique, the teacher creates a conducive and healthy environment in which the learners remains active in the form of activities or assignments and projects. The instructor plays the role of a mediator or facilitator. The instructor has some control over the learning environment and takes care that only good things are transferred to the learners. When learners are made to play different roles like that of a ticket vendor and a passenger communicating with each other and the instructor corrects the errors from time to time, it is an example of partial immersion. It can be achieved through role-playing and simulation. "One must learn by doing the thing; for though you think you know the thing, you can't be certain until you try." ( Sophocles)
Advantages of immersion
- In immersion, the learner holds the central position. The technique is learner oriented.
- The emphasis is on learning and not teaching or instruction.
- In immersion, the learner remains active. He plays a participative role.
- There is an interaction between the instructor and other students in this technique. It is not a one-way business, with the flow from instructor to the learner.
- The learner gets an opportunity to discover principles of language and rules of grammar through examples that are deliberately presented. Self-education is supposed to be the best education.
- What is learned through instruction may not be understood and remembered by the learner. What is learned through immersion is well-understood and retained permanently.
- Passive role of students fails to retain their interest in an instructional classroom. Interest can be developed and sustained by using the immersion technique.
- Learners explore, observe, act, reflect, analyze and conclude. All their learning skills are sharpened in immersion. In instruction, there is more of spoon-feeding.
- Conceptual learning takes place in immersion rather than mechanical or rote learning.
- Immersion learning is full of vitality and enthusiasm.
If one is looking for deep knowledge of a subject that is firmly built for a long-term, immersion technique is the most appropriate. It is challenging for the instructors who have to remain aloof, yet monitor control on the situation. They have to provide opportunities for the learners to practice the skills and fail safely. Instructors have to be resourceful and creative. Their role of facilitators is trying to play. For the sheer benefit of learners and best results, one must take optimal advantage of the immersion technique.
Immersion has a great future in the world of technology that can provide virtual experiences to learners!!!