Can video be a form of concrete experience that is part of the cycle of experiential learning (depicted in this graphic)?
If you pause for a moment and consider some of your favorite films, think about what characteristics made those films so powerful? In The Power of Film, UCLA film instructor Howard Suber argues “feelings … lie at the heart of all memorable popular films. When the feelings of the filmmakers, feelings of the characters, and feelings of the audience come together, there is the opportunity for greatness” (Suber 2006: 162). At the heart of this “greatness,” I believe, is an experience: through an audiovisual encounter, our senses of sight and hearing are aroused, interacting with cognitive and affective capacities, to construct a potentially transformative experience. In Jarvis’ words, a powerful film can engage the “whole person.” I found this same sentiment in a similarly titled book (The Power of Movies) by philosopher Colin McGinn, who seeks to show “how screen and mind interact.” McGinn (2005: 14) explores the “perceptual, cognitive, and affective” dimensions of film reception, and argues “movies engage our psychological faculties in profound and unique ways ... they serve to condense much of significance into a relatively brief and isolated experience” (emphasis added). Following this work, I see film as engaging the affective, cognitive, emotional, and even spiritual levels of the viewer, bringing them outside of their normal, routine modes of thought, thus constituting new experiences for the viewer.
Of course, not all films or videos will engage the “whole person.” For example, compared to many news clips or presentations, The Wire or Michael Moore’s Sicko (see this clip) are much more likely to serve purposes of experiential learning. However each type of video clip has its own uses, and it seems that the trick is to find the clip most effective to meet your teaching goals, in any particular class. But if you aim to draw upon experiential learning in your own teaching, you may not need to look any further than the video clips available on this site and elsewhere!
1. Jarvis, Peter, John Holford, and Colin Griffin. 2004. The Theory and Practice of Learning, 2e. Taylor & Francis.
2. Kolb, David. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development.
3. Kolb, David and Roger Fry. 1975 ”Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential Learning,” in C. Cooper (ed.) Theories of Group Process. John Wiley.
4. McGinn, Colin. 2005. The Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact. Pantheon Books.
5. Suber, Howard. 2006. The Power of Film. Michael Wiese Productions.