Experiential Learning Plus Online Learning Equals Enhanced Learner Engagement
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Experiential Learning: How Can It Provoke Learners' Engagement?

Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, and politician noted,

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. This statement of Confucius leads the foundation of one of the most comprehensive and successful teaching methodology, which is experiential learning.

Also known as “Hands-on Learning”, experiential learning has been in relevance since ages. This teaching methodology finds its place in the works of Ancient Greek Philosophers as well. Around 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory

David A. Kolb, an American educational theorist further developed the most articulated and scientific experiential learning model in 1984. He finds “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. Over a period, this learning model has gained more prominence. It integrates the most comprehensive components of learning: experience, reflection, conceptualization (understand), and experimentation.

Concrete Experience

Learners gain concrete experience by participating in a complex task/activity, which is set in a rich context. The nature of the experience may be defined in a subtle way, due to which learners need to make decisions based on wide-range of available information. Overall, the best scenario for helping learners learn is by enabling them to learn by doing.

Reflective Observation

Learners reflect on the consequences of decisions and compare their experience with the prior experiences and understandings about the issues raised while gaining new experience.

Abstract Conceptualization

Reflection of own work gives rise to a new idea. It modifies the existing abstract concept. In other words, learning by doing helps learners do abstract conceptualization and gain better insights into their work.

Active Experimentation

After completing a task/activity, learners develop zeal to experiment with their finding/hypothesis in their daily lives. In a nutshell, active experimentation by learners helps them judge accomplishments as well as failures.

But Why Experiential Learning?

After understanding the meaning of experiential learning, now let us try to figure out its relevance with the present-day education technology.

Enhancing employee engagement and experience have always been major challenges. Even top organizations across the globe face the heat of poor employee engagement, which eventually yields lower retention rate and performance.

Gallup’s research report on the State of the Global Workplace highlights certain key concerns related to employee engagement. According to this report, 85% of employees worldwide are disengaged or are actively disengaged in their job.

This research report also highlights the urgency for having high employee engagement rate. As per this report, organizations with highly engaged teams have 21% more profitability.

For enhancing learner engagement and business productivity, there is a need to build an ecosystem, which ensures employee participation, retention, and growth. However, it is also important to realize that engagement cannot be commanded, it can only be cultivated.

The only way to cultivate the culture of engagement is to uplift the employees’ knowledge base. Employees need to analyze their purpose. The workplace culture needs a paradigm shift. This fundamental shift can be achieved by aligning experiential learning with corporate training.

By adopting experiential learning methodology and incorporating it with highly sophisticated and technologically enabled eLearning makes a perfect learning environment. It also enhances the learning experience of learners. This strategy has the potential for appealing the learners. Moreover, assessing learners’ within this training framework is much more scientific and measurable.

Advantages Of Experiential Learning

  • It gives learners the skills and experience they need for real-world success.
  • Learning by doing supports subconscious adoption of values and personal attributes, which are difficult to teach with direct instruction.
  • This form of learning is enjoyable, leading to better performance and higher completion rates.

In totality, experiential learning cultivates the culture of engagement, which ultimately leads to improved employee performance and profit. Now, let us move further and try to find out different ways of incorporating experiential learning into eLearning.

Application Of Experiential Learning In eLearning

Experiential learning along with eLearning helps learners learn by having real-life experience. This learning methodology is applicable to eLearning through the following activities:

Games

Gaming is one of the finest ways of implementing experiential learning in the online training program. Online games help learners to learn by doing. Different processes involved in gaming easily teach employees about the steps to overcome on-the-job challenges.

Example: Product knowledge mix and match, “what if” online quizzes, multiplayer mysteries, hidden objects online assessments, etc.

Simulations

Making simulations the key component of the online training strategy is yet another step through which you can enable learners to learn by doing. You can simulate real-world situations is a digital ecosystem and assess how learners react to different situations. The simulation also provides an opportunity for learners to practice their skills and make mistakes in a secure and digital environment.

Example: Expose learners to everyday disasters through AR, simulated conversations for sales training, etc.

The Way Forward

Organizations across the world have realized the importance of learning by doing. They have started to leverage experiential learning. Experiential learning does not merely provide higher engagement, retention, or performance but it also helps organizations reduce their training costs on classroom training or futile eLearning courses.

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