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[Video] 12 Steps to Creating an Experiential Learning Program for Your Organization – Part 2

By Phil Geldart on January 31, 2017
   

Watch this video to continue learning about experiential learning as a tool for creating and sustaining behavior change. In part two of this blog series Phil Geldart, Founder and CEO of Eagle's Flight, continues to discuss the 12 steps you need to create a successful experiential learning program at your organization. 

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Video Transcript

Step number seven, you then need to add the detail. So if I am going to provide information and if I'm going to provide it at the beginning, what detail, what kind of information? So again, I have to go back to what I want to teach. Is the information going to be relative to the present? Is it going to be relevant to the past, like data? Is it going to be relevant to the future? Something that they're going to need in the future. Is the information going to be hard to get, easy to get, costly, free? What is the detail for each of the components that I need to build into the experience? And again, all of these decisions are easy when you go back to where you began - what am I trying to teach? What am I trying to teach you about planning? What am I trying to teach you about the role of information in planning? And as you keep asking yourself the things that you want people to learn, it makes it easy to make the decisions in the design phase, and you embed them into the experience. When it's over people will say, “Wow that was a great experience, look at what I learned!” Well, I know exactly what you learned because I designed it with that idea in mind. So you know before they even begin, what they're going to learn and therefore, where you can take the debrief. And therefore, how you can use the experience to change behavior. So as you think here, this seventh step of adding the detail, know the questions to ask but the answers come by going back to the objective.

Which takes us to step number eight, and as you can see I'm working my way through the back of the book. Step number eight is work out the numbers. When you were done the experience, when I'm done as a participant, I need to know how I did. I want quantifiable data, I want to see the results of my decisions, the results of my team's decisions. I want to see the results of my actions. Did I win, did I lose? So wherever possible, you want quantifiable data. And with that idea in mind, the quantifiable data needs to be used in the debrief to drive the learning. If I'm trying to build conviction, the data needs to show that my behavior, perhaps was not optimal, so that I can show them how to improve the behavior. Or if you're trying to give knowledge, the data needs to say, this is what the consequences of not knowing enough was. Whatever you're trying to do - whether it's conviction or knowledge or skill - whatever you're trying to teach in the experience, the numbers at the end need to be an accurate reflection of that. So, you need to spend a lot of time because when you go through the first design of the experience, the numbers don't necessarily work. I invest ten and get a thousand, but that's not realistic. Do I want them to invest ten and get 20? Or invest ten and get five? So you’ve got to go back to, what am I trying to teach? Where can I put metrics in place and how at the end of the experience, can those metrics serve to demonstrate the learnings. If I behave really, really well in the area of planning, the metric should show me with a high score. And if I do not plan well, the metrics should show a low score. So the metrics link back to what I'm trying to teach and you've got to work at it over and over. Many times at Eagle’s Flight we'll get the experience down, we know we want to teach, but getting the numbers to work, we go through test after test after test. We bring students in, we feed them pizza and we have them play it. We see what happened, we change numbers or bring another group of students in, more pizza, more testing. Until we we’re sure that the experience actually delivers what it is that we want it to. So this is quite a bit of work, to work out the numbers, to make sure they actually support the learning.

Step nine – test. It’s easy to miss step nine because you’ve created this great experience and you think it’s perfect. But you need to test it, rework it, test it, rework it, test it, rework it. So that you are sure it is going to deliver what it is that you think it’s going to deliver. And it’s only when you see it tested out and you get that data and say I think I need to change this or need to change that. That wasn’t very clear. This needs to be a little more explicit. There's too much detail on that. This is taking too long. This isn't taking long enough. It's in that constant testing and reworking that you refine your experience so that you know the finished product is going to be perfect.

Number ten, you now get a little bit more of the fun stuff because now you're going to create the rules and you're going to create the experience in a really effective way. So, your experience is essentially a game of some sort, and it needs rules. So you need to be able to present the rules. And you need to make sure that the participants don't fall asleep during the rules because they're so boring. So this is where you get to access your theme because you have a [chosen] theme. You’re racing across the desert in search of treasure, so all the rules are phrased within the theme. All the illustrations link back to the theme. All the humor you build into the rules can link back to the theme. So when the theme is great and the experience comes to life through the visuals, the rules can be done in a way that is exciting, engaging, fun and entertaining. And at the same time as you give people the mechanics that they need to succeed, the rules, you're also creating within their mind this anticipation that they're about to go to this really cool experience. You get to do both [when you do] the rules and the layout of the presentation of those, correctly. So working on number ten to get the rules done in a way that's entertaining and engaging, is critical, sets you up for success and it also makes sure that the people can play, knowing what it is they’re supposed to do.

Which then leads me to step number 11 and that is: Write the storyline or the plot. You’ve created an experience, you know what it's going to teach, you know how it’s going to teach it, what the components are, what the theme is and what the visuals are going to be like. You’ve got the rules all laid out but now it needs a story. And it’s fascinating, I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying Disney and there’s a story behind everything at Disney. Even when you're standing in line to go on a ride, you can see posters as you walk through the line that tell the story of the ride you're about to go on. I walked away from that and said Disney is brilliant at creating a story, a framework of background, a history, a context behind what it is you are about to do. And that story is what it is that builds the mental images in the mind of the participant, so that they get excited about what they're about to do. So that they have these metal hooks onto which to put the things which their going to learn and language that they can use in the experience. The story creates the framework. It’s almost like the mortar between the bricks that hold the wall up. When you get the story right, the bricks are solid and the wall is solid, so all that work that you've done is held together by the story. So you write the story.

Lastly, you bring it to life. And again at Eagle’s Flight, we have a team of very talented artists. But now you take all that work that you've done, all the thinking you've done, all the numbers and you go to an art team and say, make it magical. And now they bring the whole thing to life with images, with graphics, and with pictures, your story comes to life. Your rules come to life, your numbers and metrics come to life, everything comes to life. But it's all done in a way that is visually appealing and exciting, so when people walk into the experience they are immediately transported into this world - into this desert world or into this world of the old wild west or whatever it is - through the visuals and the graphics that you used to bring your experience to life.

And those are the 12 steps. If you put them together, you have an experiential learning event.

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