What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential Learning refers to the process of teaching or training that imparts lessons through active engagement with the learners or participants. The individuals involved directly experience the lesson through their close participation, individual and collective reflections, critical analysis and situations where they apply the learning to further embed them. This sort of education is centered on the learner; they are taught though their world view and perspective. The training are not based on assumptions on what they need, rather, they are based on the need generated after observing the behavior of the learners and getting valuable information about their point of view and context.
The importance of Experiential Learning is multi fold and vast. Programs that incorporate the paradigm and methods of experiential learning, like the ones offered by Training Impact, have the ability to intrinsically motivate people to inspire others and transfer their learning into their everyday life and the workplace. As Confucius had once stated:
“I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand.”
This is as big an endorsement as any when it comes to the incorporation of experiential learning in the mainstream Learning and Development process in organizations. The instructional style of the classroom, also referred to as the talk and chalk method is increasingly being replaced by experiential learning activities, experiential education programs and group activities that require the active involvement of the learners in the process. When people are mentally and physically engaged there is synchronization between their mind and body which leads to greater levels of learning. The whole being is geared towards the learning. This is a very holistic approach.Experiential Learning also jogs the memories and revives the thinking process of people. When they are actively engaged and not just passively absorbing, people are more likely to have unique and creative thoughts that trigger them to action. Which will in turn make them feel more involved and build esteem and resilience of spirit. When seated in a classroom setting, the majority of the individuals will feel hesitant from participating actively, especially if they feel disassociated by the instructional method of learning. When incorporating projects into the learning process, projects that involve everyone in a group, everyone has to put in an effort to reach the completion of the project. There will be varying degrees of learning but even the most introvert member of the group would be able to derive their two cents from the activity, as a result of self-participation, observation of the behavior of other group members and the reflections after the projects.
The experiences in the programs are structured in a way that people take the first steps, are fully involved in the Decision Making process throughout the projects and are responsible for the results. Individuals have to rely on themselves, their wit, attitude and behavior to get past the hurdles and obstacles put before them, as a team or individually. When people are made to go through the hands-on practice and activities, they are part of I do I understand model. Practice makes perfect is not only true for math and numbers but holds a lot of sway in learning management, leadership and people skills in the workplace.
Dominant Model of Experiential Learning
David A Kolb built on the philosophy of John Dewey who was a great proponent of experiential learning. Kolb’s theory of experiential learning and the four learning styles has gain prominence since its inception in the mid-20th century. He had deeply studied the cognitive processes of people to see how they retained knowledge and generated new and creative insights form them.
Kolb divided the learning process into four steps of the actual experience, reflection on the experience, concluding the learning from the experience and then applying those learning in similar situations to further concertize them and make them a part of our deck of cards. This process when used in Training Programs related to developing leadership behaviors and/ or actively inculcating a culture in an organization has very pervasive and powerful results. They then form the basis for future experience and learning.
This theory focuses on the different forms of learning which are diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating. These Learning and Development styles are based on the process of learning developed by David Kolb. They are all distinct methods of learning that, when combined, give an individual cause to reflect and introspect on the results that emerge. The four areas can be divided into the following four quadrants.
|Feeling (Concrete Experience – CE)||Doing (Active Experimentation – AE)||Watching (Reflective Observation – RO)|
|Feeling (Concrete Experience – CE)||Accommodating (CE/AE)||Diverging (CE/RO)|
|Thinking (Abstract Conceptualization – AC)||Converging (AC/AE)||Assimilating (AC/RO)|
All four types of learning styles have their benefits. But when combined in the process of learning mapped out by Kolb, they are exceptionally powerful and successful in imprinting information in the minds of people which is manifest in recurrent actions and behaviors.
Training Impact’s Experiential Learning Program
Training Impact is a staunch believer that learning is not only about fun and games but real learning, or rather in-depth learning happens when people experience some degree of discomfort that wrenches them out of their comfort zone and makes them confront their weaknesses or engage with new ideas and norms.
Learning is a process that requires focus, consistency and deliberation. Experiential learning as a process engages the five senses of the participants which in turn provides them with real time insight using which they have to respond to the situations thrown at them. This builds emotional management and strength of character. The participants are emotionally, socially, physically, soulfully and intellectually engaged, they depend on their wits to figure out the dilemmas laid out in front of them. They have to grapple with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the environment and the simulation. This in turn sharpens their senses and allows them to dig deep within themselves, get out of their comfort zones and explore the hidden depths of their potentials. Through this process they glean the authenticity of the learning. Many participants come out starry-eyed, getting to know new things about themselves, about their capabilities.
The facilitators at Training Impact combine wilderness and the method of experiential learning to form structured Corporate Training that are customized keeping in mind the specific needs and requirements of the participants. May it be trust building, Leadership Development or strategic interventions; Training Impact carries projects and activities specifically designed by our team to deal with the many nuanced and circumspect challenges that a company faces.
Training Impact has a wide range of Corporate Training programs that incorporate Experiential learning in varying frequencies and settings such as indoors as well as outdoors or a mix of both. The baseline method in all programs is learning through experience but the intensity of the learning depends on the type of program, the cadre and characteristics of the participants and the company structure.
The programs and solutions offered by Training Impact include inbound and Outbound Training programs. All the programs are project and activity based. The trainers are more coaches and facilitators, guiding the participants in the process and bringing them to introspective conclusions. The indoors are fully utilized and the individuals do not sit and absorb for more than a fraction of the entire workshop or intervention. They are mostly mobile, using their tactile sense to learn and absorb concepts rather than just the audio-visual mode.
The aspects of gamification are used throughout the programs and interventions proposed. Such that there is a high degree of engagement and remembrance is string even many months after the program. For the Training Impact’s Trainers, Experiential learning is not just a method of learning, it is a way of life. The team is well versed in mastering the self and coming out emotionally and professionally strong.Training Impact makes sure that each and every individual leave with memories that help them adapt in the corporate jungle and overcome bigger challenges than they faced during the program. Our programs teach participants a ‘can-do’ attitude in the face of overwhelming adversity and unsurmountable odds. We teach them that through the program experiences, they see the word impossible itself saying that ‘I’m possible’.