Friday, April 15, 2016

Learn Better: Exploring Experiential Learning at the Workplace

Learning experts who are hired for quick-fix solutions would go back to learning theories and instructional models and choose one which fits the best. Soon you will have an impressive product that your associates will take over a few hours and show their increased competence with an end of course assessment.

Perfect. Perfect when we need them to memorise facts. Bloom’s level one. Maybe two?
But why stay at level two, when you can reach right to the fifth or the sixth level? Why choose which learning theory or model fits more, when you can have a little bit of all? Why use only reading and/or listening skills of your employees, when you can use (and hone) many more!

Welcome Experiential Learning into your L&D sphere.

Experiential Learning, in simple words, is learning through experience.
Experience. What our forefathers cherished.  Why, I remember reading a quote by Confucius on the door of my Chemistry Lab, when I was in the seventh standard:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Experience. Cognitive Psychologists and their years of research has proven that what gets stored in the episodic memory is literally etched for life – via the Long Term Memory. Episodic Memory is what keeps your experiences safe for future reference.

Experience. Something you are immersed in, with your whole brain. All your senses. When all your brain functions are aligned to rapidly analyse, interpret and reanalyse and reinterpret the world around you. You not only use your dry analytical-brain-in-void to do that, but you also leverage your emotions in the process, just as you would do in the real world!
Experience. When knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation all take place together.

Experience. What better way to learn can there be?

I remember my social psychology professor dividing our class into groups for some games, before we started our chapter on Group Dynamics. I cannot forget a single point she had to make.
Workshops and Adventure activities can be designed in the most creative ways to impart all of behavioural trainings, and a lot of skill trainings too! Metaphor Development (Schön, 1993) is an interesting recent addition to this technique. “An essential characteristic of this frame of reference is the central position given to the experiencing participant, and the process of metaphorizing which captures their experience” reflects professor of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Johan Hovelynck.

Your next offsite event can be designed to include such interesting activities.
So why not increase some employee engagement, while enhancing their performance?