What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning (ExL) is an educational approach where students learn by applying skills and theories in real-world settings. It's about bridging classroom knowledge with practical experience, whether through hands-on projects, research, or creative work. ExL activities can be part of a course or take place outside the traditional classroom, offering a dynamic learning experience. 

Work Integrated Learning

Work-integrated learning (WIL) is a form of curricular experiential learning where students work with, or for industry partners to achieve authentic, real-world learning experiences related to their course of study. Authentic learning opportunities are planned and assessed as part of the student’s curricular (learning) activities.  

In other words, students get to work alongside professionals in a local company or organization while they study. 

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Examples of Experiential Learning


Apprenticeships are a partnership between a learner (the apprentice) and an employer. The apprentice gains hands-on experience, with about 80% of the training happening on the job under the guidance of a certified mentor. The remaining 20% includes classroom instruction. The program lasts 2-5 years, depending on the trade, and combines practical learning with technical training, both essential for mastering the skills of a trade. 

Supervised Practice  

Gain valuable work experience under the guidance of an experienced, registered or licensed professional in any discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional licensure or certification. Typically unpaid, this supervised setting allows students to work without managing their workload. 

Work Experience

Academic programs may include work experience and internships, offering one or two full-time work terms. These terms provide students with valuable hands-on experience in a workplace related to their field of study or career aspirations.

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Course Based Learning

Field Experiences

Field experiences offer students valuable hands-on learning opportunities. These activities are supervised by college staff and take place outside or inside college facilities, providing students with practical instruction and access to specialized equipment and supplies. 

Note: Field experiences do not include routine computer lab use or general workshop activities. 

Lab Experiences

Lab experiences immerse students in real-world scenarios, offering hands-on training akin to that of professionals. Students engage in scientific research and interact with simulated patients, including fellow students playing the role of patients. These experiences focus on patient care education, honing observational skills, and applying detailed, contextual information. 

Course-based Activities 

Students transfer classroom learning into practical contexts, such as real-world projects, enhancing their academic skills. These applied learning activities, which can be integrated into courses or occur outside the traditional classroom, bridge theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience. 

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Northern WIL Hub

The Northern WIL Hub is a collaborative partnership between Coast Mountain College and the College of New Caledonia. The project aims to generate and grow student, institutional, community and employer connections to foster and sustain quality work-integrated learning opportunities in the vast northern region the two colleges serve.

Learn more

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