The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius once said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”.

Today more and more organizations are gravitating to assimilating experiential learning in the workplace. Why? Companies are starting to see the benefits of bringing in training programs that encourage learning through “doing” and “experiencing.”  

When you incorporate experiential learning into your training programs, it increases the learners’ motivation to learn, it produces more autonomous learners, expands the transfer of knowledge/skill to the workplace, and cultivates more meaningful learning. If your training programs are not designed to include approximately 30% of the time focused on disseminating the content to the learner and 70% of the time allowing them to apply what they learned, then you are missing the boat.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IN THE WORKPLACE 

TO BE EXPERIENTIAL; IT SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING FUNDAMENTAL ADULT LEARNING PRINCIPLES:

  1. It must have a purpose and personal applicability to the learner (relevance)
  2. Participants must be allowed to improve their learning by applying new skills (practice, feedback, and repetition)
  3. There must be reflection time to make connections between the activity and real-world applications (transference)

Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” With this in mind, do your training programs provide your employees with an experience they will remember?

Creating opportunities for your employees to experience an emotional connection to a concept is what is going to stay with them, not notes from a training session. Not sure how you will flavour your training programs with experiential learning?  

Incorporating some role-plays, games, case studies, simulations, problem-based learning, sensitivity training, or on-the-job training are all experiential activities that will help the learner employ the concepts of what they learned.  

Experiential learning allows an employee to get their hands dirty while applying what they have learned. Learning by doing provides the learner with instant feedback. They can reflect on what to keep doing, what to modify, or what to change altogether.

When you employ multiple senses and emotional connections when training, it creates stronger memories. Let’s not forget; our brains are wired to remember emotions. Experiential learning enables employees to feel something, improving the brain’s ability to remember. Training without an “experiential” component means you risk missing out on integrating what they learned into their day-to-day activities.

Experiential learning in the workplace allows the learner to get creative solving problems and more motivated to learn. It provides an opportunity to reflect, make connections between new concepts and existing ones, and engage more regions in their brains. This allows the learner to make genuine personal connections to the material, which helps enhance their knowledge and skills and yields more meaning behind the learning. 

Experiential education is the ideal learning model that allows for direct, hands-on engagement with course content. The act of practicing a skill and reflecting on our experiences strengthens the neural connections in our brain, making us, in effect, “smarter.” It accelerates our learning, helps us apply critical thinking and adapt to changing circumstances. 

It is critical that you Incorporate experiential learning into your training and development programs, and allow your employees to practice, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and try again. As Sir Richard Branson says, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”