Site Based/ Experiential Learning
"Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand"- Confucius
What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is most commonly referred to as 'learning by doing'. It is a process of learning that looks to make a lasting impression by essentially immersing participants in a direct personal journey of discovery. Experiential learning is about altering perspectives and changing mindsets by taking the learner outside their comfort zone and forcing them to actively engage and reflect on a subject matter.

Why Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is constructivist learning, where students are active learners, constructing their own knowledge, rather than observing the demonstrative behaviour of a teacher.

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Because experiential learning is active learning, students more readily understand what they are learning and thus retain the knowledge to a greater degree than when merely having information presented to them by another. The hands-on nature of experiential learning is highly motivating for students. It enables participants to be curious, creative, think critically and feel empowered to participate in issues that affect the community and the world around them. It also helps develop leadership capabilities to a significant level.


Background: Anubhuti' (meaning 'to experience'), are residential immersive learning programme designed for students of The Somaiya School, Mumbai and held at various sites of Natural & Cultural importance.

Anubhuti programmes in 2015-2016 were designed and conducted by the Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning (SCEL). The programmes focused on natural and cultural heritage of India with an aim to instill observation and inquiry based learning among participants. The programmes had a mix of activities that involved site based learning, interaction with experts, hands-on research with scientists, interaction with community members and self-reflection. The programmes were aimed at helping students develop skills such as scientific inquiry based learning, critical thinking, multi-perspective thinking, planning, team building, leadership, observation, communication, creativity and civic responsibility.

Turning farms and forest
into a classroom

Students worked with a leading scientist from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore in the forests of Western Ghats of Sirsi.

Students got an opportunity to work alongside scientists and contribute to real scientific data collection. Working with the scientists they not only learnt about forests, research methodology & the need for such scientific data collection and analysis but also established a direct personal connection with nature and science.

Students also visited organic farms at Gholvad and Sameerwadi to understand where our food comes from, they learnt about grafting and pisciculture, they learnt how to harvest crops, they learnt the connections being forests, biodiversity, food..they learnt about ecosystem services

During the site based learning programme students spent a day with a batrachologist & worked with him to study frog and frog habitat & behavior.

Donning head torch and with recording sheets in hand, students went on a frog trail with our scientist and learnt how to identify frog species based on their body patterns; how to record data scientifically. They discussed the need for amphibian research and related conservation issues.

Making Cultural Connections

India's cultural heritage flows from her 5000 year old culture and civilisation - art, architecture, sculptures, monuments, folk dance and music, values, attires.

At Anubhuti programmes at places like Pattdakal, Bijapur, Hampi, Nareshwadi, Aurangabad our students experienced and learnt about not just the conflicts but also the confluences in our diversity.

They met and spoke to scholars & historians, they interacted with archeologists from Archeological Survey of India (ASI), visited live excavation/restorations sites, they questioned conservation architects to learn about our past and better understand our present. They participated in hands-on workshops conducted by dancers, sculptors, poets and artists to experience our heritage through multiple perspectives

Visiting Industries

Our students also spent time visiting factories and industries. Farm to Plate, Fibre to Fabric, Forests and Electricity - big companies to small scale industries our students experience the gamut of resources - Natural & Human that goes into manufacturing/ making the things they consume in their everyday life.

The process, the machines, the economics, the environment - forms a part of their learning through seeing and doing

The Indian Culture and History that is several millennia old is an amalgamation of several cultures and spans across the Indian subcontinent.

Maharashtra and the neighboring state of Karnataka & Goa offer many site-based and experiential learning opportunities to complement the lessons from History, Language, Literature and Geography.

Further, nature is essential to our health and wellbeing. There is also much evidence that health and learning improve when we have more and better contact with nature. The list of environmental issues the world is facing today are numerous and complex.

It has been observed that environment education improves youth achievement in science, reading, maths, and social studies (when used as an integrating context in core subject matter instruction).

The sites of historical, cultural and natural importance are selected based on the availability of time, learning objectives, curriculum connections and feasibility.