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Why Is Experiential Learning So Important in Training Initiatives?

By Sue Wigston on December 30, 2019

One of the reasons more and more organizations are gravitating toward experiential learning is that it has the power to change behaviors in the workplace. During an experiential learning training session, participants do more than just learn new information; they learn how to apply it in the real world and they are able to quickly see the results of their actions. This model helps give them personal conviction and confidence to apply new skills on the job. If you are considering experiential learning for your organization, consider the following advantages of experiential learning.

Immersive Activities Engage Employees in Training

Experiential learning employs immersive activities that fully engage participants. Teams must work together to solve a mystery, collect the most gold, or overcome a specific challenge. The key to the training is that the challenges in the activities mimic real-world situations without seeming like a typical corporate training session—instead, it feels like a game and it’s fun. Even the most hesitant participants can’t help but get into it. 

Because participants are fully immersed in finding the solutions, they aren’t thinking about their jobs. They’re thinking about how they can survive the outback together or complete their Arctic expedition. Meanwhile, they are learning new skills and sharing a memorable experience as a team. The connection to the real world comes later, during the targeted debrief, when a skilled facilitator guides a discussion about how these new skills and lessons can be applied at work in an everyday context.
Why choose experiential learning? Discover everything you need to know about  this powerful training tool.

Learning by Doing Increases the Chances of Information Being Retained

Whereas listening, reading, and watching are teaching approaches that have typically been used in the workplace (and will no doubt continue to be), experiential learning is a less common and more exciting way to give training fresh life and ensure the content sticks with employees. This is because when participants learn new skills through experiential learning, they see immediate results and come away with a clear understanding of how their actions make an impact. From this, they can make adjustments and try new approaches while still in the safe training environment. Learning by doing provides the best retention of new knowledge, making it more likely that employees will remember what they have learned and use it later.

Experiential Learning Promotes Behavior Change

The goal of employee training is to achieve results in the workplace, such as better time management, stronger leadership skills, improved performance, and so on. Experiential learning promotes behavior change because participants personally experience the successes and failures that result from applying their new skills, making it easier to use them in the real world.

For example, reading about a particular leadership approach can be informative, but it might feel risky to test a new method on real people in the real world, where there are potential consequences. With experiential learning, participants get to try new skills in a totally different context that doesn’t have real-life consequences. From this experimentation, they can hone their new skills before deploying them and get more comfortable with new behaviors before trying them at work. This leads to measurable behavior change, which is the ultimate goal of any training initiative.

With experiential learning, your employees can develop new competencies, retain more information, and increase the chances that new knowledge will be applied after the training event is over. Experiential learning is an excellent addition to any training and development program, no matter what industry you are in. When combined with other types of training approaches, such as e-learning, seminars, and more, experiential learning can help you achieve your organizational goals.

Experiential Learning: The Key to Effective Employee Development

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As Chief Operating Officer, Sue's extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle's Flight.

About Eagle's Flight

Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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