Experiential Learning Cycle for Dummies

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Over the last few decades, training or learning industry has changed a lot. In the corporate sector, the importance of learning and development was never as significant as it is today. According to EBN, employee replacement costs takes up 33% of the individual’s annual salary or more. This report gave a direction to many business leaders and pushed them to move a part of their resources from other business functions to the L&D function.

Employee Development Initiatives lead to Business Profit

In a study Gallup mentioned workgroups who engage employees in development witness an exponential growth in sales and profit as compared to workgroups that didn’t engage the employees at all.

Certain studies show that L&D is a matter that should be taken seriously in every organization across the globe. Every learning/training opportunity is directly or indirectly related to the business objectives. Today, none of the leaders, employers or even the participants prefer to invest time in learning sessions without tangible outcomes.

Moving away from Power Point slides or “Death by PPT”

In past, participants have been benefitted from workshops where a subject matter expert delivers a training session using one-way conversation and hundreds of presentation slides. In today’s scenario, there are endless digital & non-digital distractions that narrows the attention span without fail. The concepts like Death by PPT and One Way Talking may not be the appropriate tools to grab participants’ attention & maximize the expected outcome.

Thanks to the ancient philosopher, Confucius for giving us the golden words that certainly impacted the learning industry. In today’s scenario, his words can be explained easily in three words: ‘Learn By Doing’. This is arguably one of the most successful ways to receive & retain the knowledge for a simple reason that human brain is built for experiential learning.

An American educational theorist, David A Kolb’s remarkable work in the field of experiential learning certainly hits the nail. His model has been adopted & appreciated by thousands of trainers and L&D professionals globally.

The Experiential Learning Cycle David A Kolb 1984 (Rogger Fry)

Kolb’s experiential learning theory is represented by a four-stage learning cycles followed in a training intervention:

Experience: This phase involves introduction of any new experience or concept. The new experiences arise numerous questions and doubts in one’s head.

Outcome: Encounter a new experience

Reflect: Once experienced, it is the time for introspection. Reflecting back helps people identify the elements of the concept including learnings, drawbacks etc.

Outcome: Learner reflects back on the recent experience.

Learn: At this stage participants discuss and derive the learnings from the entire experience and identify the areas of application in different situations.

Outcome: Learner forms a mental model of the concepts learned.

Experiment: At this stage either all the learnings have been applied in the experience or the learner is ready to use the learnings in the real world.

Outcome: Learner applies the ideas in the real world to get better results.

How can you make learning Experiential?

Asking the right question is a very important tool for any facilitator to drive the Experiential Learning Cycle. A trainer is mostly very excited to share what he assumes is right for the results. However, it is always advisable to let the learner try out different ideas on his own, you will have to resist the urge of answering and must ask the right set of questions to achieve the outcome.

Few things to remember while asking a question:

1.    Ask Open-Ended Question: Asking an open-ended question is a must to drive the outcome for example:

a.    Are you satisfied? is a closed-ended question and will mostly get ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as a reply.

b.    How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the process? – Now, this is open-ended question, and this will help the learner to share more experience and learnings.

2.    Know Your Outcome: Asking a question, just for the sake of it won’t be very helpful. You must visualize the response of the participant to your question. This will help you to guide the conversation towards a particular direction.

3.    Listen Properly: The Facilitator must observe whether the participants are making any progress or if they are stuck somewhere. This means the facilitator should make sure that he is a part of the group throughout the process or else, he won’t be able to add much value.

Business Benefits of Experiential Learning

1.  Makes learning fun: Experiential learning cycle can convert all the traditional PPT based training into an engaging session.

2.   Create a lasting team bond: One can easily break the ice between the teams and create stronger bond.

3.  Learning stays for long: People learn by doing so learning also sticks longer with them as compared to other methods.

4. Promotes team work: Experiential Learning promotes culture of collaboration and over-communication.

5.   Fixed mindset to growth mindset: The biggest reason for the popularity of this tool is because it improves the participants attitude towards learning and development.

Trending Experiential Learning Activities:

Digital Treasure Hunt: Participants are divided in different teams and they go through an exciting journey to collaborate, trust and encourage each other to bring their best skills to excel. This activity helps in driving messages around speed of execution, strategic thinking and developing a winning attitude.

Digital Bomb Squad Challenge: Participants work in smaller groups to encounter situations where everyone needs to think beyond obvious and collaborate to save the world. This experiential activity helps participants develop problem solving skills and leadership competencies.

At Thought Bulb, we conduct training programs in an experiential way. This enables our participants physically & mentally glued to the objective while keeping the entire experience meaningful and fun.

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