Experiential learning, in it's simplified form, is learning by doing. Instead of sitting through a presentation (no matter how colourful), fighting to concentrate, you are immersed within the centre of the subject you are seeking to learn. Not only is this method of learning so much more interesting than other learning styles it has the following 7 benefits;
In today's highly connected, internet age, our focus is constantly challenged. This makes experiential learning more of a necessity, than ever before - it ensures we keep focused on learning and avoid the plethora of easy (digital) distractions increasingly available to us.
2. Practical Experience
Experiential learning bridges the gap between theory and practice. We were fools to think we could leave education and start careers without any issue. Most of our issues come from facing problems that can only be understood "in practice". Experiential learning helps us to face these problems in the learning stage, with teachers and solutions, instead of unprepared, outside of the learning environment where the consequences are graver.
3. Teaches Entrepreneurial (Soft) Skills
It produces demonstrable mindset changes required for business growth. Henry Mintzberg pointed out that, "Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it", neither can it be taught on the job, this type of core success skills can only realistically be taught through experiential learning.
4. Encourages Increased Engagement
Experiential learning increases engagement. The learner is submerged into the problem solving activity or event. This increases engagement for obvious reasons such as requiring a high degree of focus for participation but also the immediate involvement increases the level of learner "personal investment" meaning they care more about the outcome.
5. Strong Learner ROI
Exceptionally high level of ROI - experiential learning is effective due to the high level of personal investment. This learning style influences feelings and emotions resulting in a high level of retention - we find it easier to remember how we felt (for example when we got the answer wrong) than abstract information (the actual wrong answer).
6. Provides Accurate Data
Assessing the effectiveness of a new company infrastructure, such as a training program or a process is a crucial element of company growth. However, most assessments are solely data driven and therefore not a true reflection of how it will actually impact a business. Experiential learning, when combined with data can provide invaluable information into how a process will impact a business and further how to train its employees on the new initiative.
7. Offers Personalised Learning
Experiential learning takes learners through the following stages; assessment, teaching, learning strategy and curriculum choice. This model is a radical departure from traditional learning methods as learners can set their own pace. Companies are increasingly combining technology and simulations with experiential learning making this learning style available anytime, anywhere. This has introduced the concept of "flipped classrooms", where the learning is controlled by the students not the other way around.