Improving Corporate Training with Experiential Learning

Designing Digitally



There are various learning methods available to choose from as you design your corporate training. However, the style you choose not only needs to be effective at making your employees more effective at the tasks covered in the training but should also impart your organization’s goals and culture.

One of the most effective training techniques for task-oriented content is experiential learning. This method works well for teaching new tasks since it allows your employees the opportunity to get their hands dirty and immediately apply their training to practice a new skill.

What is Experiential Learning?

One of the simplest definitions of this methodology is ‘learning by doing.’ As such, this learning method incorporates the following principles:

  • An engaging activity that mimics the real workplace environment and its challenges

  • Teaching that allows the participant to improve as they learn and apply new skills

  • Targeted debriefing which links the task to real-life applications

David Kolb, a psychologist, defines this technique as the process whereby knowledge is generated through the transformative power of experience and is based on this 4-stage cycle:

  • Concrete Experience – the learner needs to actively participate in the experience

  • Reflective Observations – the learner should utilize analytical skills to review the experience

  • Abstract Conceptualization – the learner should be able to make conclusions and learn from them

  • Active Experimentation – the learner should be able to apply what they have just learned in decision making and problem-solving

After the experience, the learner should be able to gain insight by reflecting on the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of their performance. What did they do well? Why were they successful at that? What did they do poorly? Why were they unsuccessful at it? What do they need to do to change that?

By incorporating experiential learning in corporate training, you benefit in the following ways:

1. Moving Beyond Theory

Learning through experience allows for continuous improvement. The learner receives instant feedback so that they know what they are doing well as well as any adjustments they need to make. This creates a realistic opportunity to test for competency and identifies learners that need additional support.  

2. Bonds are Formed During Collaborations

The main benefit of learning through experience is that working on real issues, and getting instant feedback, allows the individual to assess the outcome--thus accelerating their development. The hidden benefit, however, is that when the employees collaborate, it grows and strengthens their bonds. This sets a precedent for collaboration among the team from that moment forward.

3. Gaining Memorable Insights

Instead of the typical books, courses, or lectures used in traditional training methods, experience allows the employee to learn more about themselves than anything else. As a result, anything that the individual learns during the process is more likely to stick with them, due to the enhanced levels of introspection achieved by this technique. Nothing beats learning through your own experience.

4. The Benefits of Reflection

One of the core principles of this learning style is that it makes the individual reflect on the outcome of their experiences. You can identify what works and what doesn’t for your workplace’s environment. When done right, this learning mechanism enhances agility in your organization to adapt training to best suit your employees.

5. Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Einstein. “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – Aristotle. Two of the smartest figures in history understood that you can only get good at something by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Experience is what allows you to appreciate the value of concepts and ideas.

6. Our Brains’ Wiring

The brain is wired to remember emotions. This is why you are more likely to review a situation based on how it made you feel than what its intended purpose was. Similarly, learning through experience enables the individual to feel something, which enhances the brain’s ability to recollect. While other training styles such as lectures could be effective, the lessons learned are typically put into short-term memory. And without the application of these principles, they will rarely get incorporated into their daily actions.

Learning through experience is one of the best methods that you can use to train your staff. While there are many benefits of utilizing this method, one of the most important ones is that it gives employees confidence in their abilities. A confident employee is one of the best assets an organization can have.

Designing Digitally is a custom learning solutions provider. We specialize in creating educational, engaging, and entertaining experiences that incorporate experiential learning to enhance the learner’s retention and interest. The success attained by the numerous organizations we have partnered with is a testament to the effectiveness of our methods.

To learn more about our custom learning solutions and the benefits of experiential learning, contact us today.