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Edutainment: Why Experiential Learning Works

Posted by Scott Halstead on 8/16/2017

The concept of “edutainment” is not anything new. The idea that education should be enjoyable has been around since early civilizations. But modern society has come a long way since the early tools of our ancestors. It seems obvious that children would retain information more effectively through methods that engage them and make it more fun for them to learn. And I’m not just talking about watching videos in the classroom. I’m talking about delivering high-quality tangible experiences that are memorable and distinct and have the ability to take learning to the next level.  

With vast experience working as “edutainers” BGM Experiential has developed and implemented unique programing that delivers hands-on curriculum to students. Engaging with teachers and students in order to generate activity both in the classroom, at home and within communities is extremely effective. Where am I going with this?

It’s important for brands, to form relationships with the next generation of consumers. So getting in with them at a young age can help to establish behaviors and habits that last a lifetime. Edutainment or experiential learning gives students the opportunity to experience a concept through touch, feel, and use, which in turn creates a closer bond between the student and a brand. A-ha!

Experiencing something firsthand makes it “real” for consumers and establishes an emotional connection between the product, brand and consumer. People are in turn more likely to associate positive emotions with a brand.

And how do we know this? Our client, energy company Eversource, reached out to us in 2014 hoping for a way to educate students and teach them that even mundane, daily energy habits can have a huge impact over time. With the knowledge that experiential learning would help to engage students in critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, the challenge became the creation of experiential programming that would promote energy conservation and provide tangible experiences for Massachusetts students that live in communities serviced by the company. And so, we set out to concept, produce and implement unique programs targeting children.

Alas, our program Energy Quest™ was born. The program is interactive and school-based and takes students in grades six through eight inside a life-sized inflatable environment designed to look like a home. Within one class period, students are sent on a mission to explore five rooms in search of areas using energy. Every student receives a tablet equipped with a virtual reality platform, allowing him or her to scan these areas launching a virtual experience on their tablet. After visiting schools across Massachusetts, the award-winning program, Energy Quest™, has resulted in students increased understanding of the importance of energy conservation in their own home and a significant increase in retention rates.

Gamification is another tool we’ve used to stimulate young students’ senses. Via an interactive life-size board, our game Watts-Ville™ for Eversource teaches students in grades K – 3 about energy efficiency. Students are separated into groups where they take turns spinning the Watts-Ville™ wheel. As the groups advance along the path across the board, they encounter both positive and negative energy-conservation messages and must answer questions about energy conservation. The first team to reach the finish line wins bragging rights! At the end of the program, students receive an Eversource goodie bag containing their very own Watts-Ville™ game to play at home and an increased awareness of energy efficiency. The experience for students is immersive and fun, and therefore memorable.

We’ve found enormous success from edutainment, and experiential learning, especially as it relates to the next generation of consumers. Experiencing something first-hand within an educational setting creates curiosity and retention that extends beyond the classroom. For a brand, “edutainment” is an effective way to get the attention of the next generation of consumers.

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