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Glossary » exploratory learning

exploratory learning

an approach to teaching and training that encourages the learner to explore and experiment to uncover relationships, with much less of a focus on didactic training (teaching students by lecturing them). Exploratory learning does not necessarily mean an unguided or unconstrained learning environment, but does mean that learners may discover unexpected lessons and reach conclusions following various paths.

Exploratory learning approaches are considered most appropriate for teaching generalized thinking and problem-solving skills, and may not be the best approach for such things as memorization (though proponents of exploratory learning would emphasize that memorization is probably much less useful than it is often thought to be).

Computer support for exploratory learning usually emphasizes using computers as tools rather than as teachers. Not only may traditional software such as spreadsheets be naturally appropriate to the task, but computers also make excellent communication devices for co-discovery and make great simulation devices for exploring safely in otherwise inaccessible domains.