Experiential Learning Vs. Traditional Learning Methodologies

Experiential Learning Vs. Traditional Learning Methodologies


More than a hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus formulated the learning curve, which describes the relationship between memory and time. In a nutshell, it says that, during a lecture, if your absorption rate is at 100 percent on day one, there is a 50-80 percent loss of learning from the second day onward, which is reduced to a retention rate of just 2-3 percent at the end of thirty days.

This theory is even more relevant in today’s world where attention spans have come down and learning sometimes is reduced to 140 characters! How then can ‘Experiential Learning’ help overcome this situation?

Experiential learning, at its core, is the philosophy that individuals learn material, techniques and core skills while doing a task.

Watch this video on experiential learning.

We believe there are eight reasons why experiential learning is the future of learning.

Experiential Learning Accelerates Learning

Repetitive Learning or learning by rote has long been replaced by ‘Learning by Doing.’ Experiential Learning training methodology uses critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making to deliver a training module. This has become an established method to accelerate learning.

On the other hand, traditional learning methods can slow down the absorption rate, create a lack of interest in the subject and have little impact on the individual.

Experiential Learning Provides a Safe Learning Environment

Simulations use real-life scenarios that depict several challenges, which a participant will eventually face after the course completion. It is only natural that mistakes happen during the course of learning, and using simulations is like taking kids to a playground, and getting them to have fun, try new things and learn, in a safe controlled environment.

There is no such safe learning for participants in a traditional learning environment. This can be dangerous, as this is no longer a test bed, and all decisions that are made can impact the business in real time.

Experiential Learning Bridges the Gap Between Theory and Practice

By moving beyond theory to the realm of “learning by doing,’ the trainee gets a first-hand experience of practicing what has been taught. This plays a crucial role in retaining concepts and ideas.

In a traditional learning environment, participants are taught concepts that they don’t know how they can relate to, through a PowerPoint presentation in a classroom. They are expected to apply these concepts on the job once out of the classroom. However, there is no established method to track if the participants are ready to apply the concepts and theory to practice.

Watch the video on how simulations bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Experiential Learning Produces Demonstrable Mindset Changes

There are very few learning methods that can have a dramatic impact on the participant’s mindset. Experiential Learning is one of them. Management guru Henry Mintzberg pointed out long ago that, “Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it”.

If swimming or for that matter, cycling or any other skill were to be taught in a classroom in a traditional manner, not only would it be a waste of time and effort for the participant, but they may not relate to the theory and may never understand the importance of that skill.

Experiential Learning Increases Engagement Levels

The high focus on collaboration and learning from each other benefits the participant as it increases engagement. On the other hand, since the participant is immediately involved in the problem-solving activity or event, the level of ownership of the outcome is high.

On the other hand, most traditional classroom learning environments witness bored and disinterested participants. They are there because they have been asked to be there, and it requires high levels of motivation to get them involved in the classroom activity.

Experiential Learning Provides Accurate Assessment Results

Assessing the effectiveness of the training program in terms of the benefits to the trainees and the company is a crucial element of any learning program. Most assessments are data-driven and traditional tools use tests to measure effectiveness.

When it comes to experiential learning programs, it is extremely difficult to gather data, which can be used for assessments. This is where analytics come in. When combined with simulations and gamification, experiential training products become a powerhouse of data, which can be used to deliver assessments results accurately across cognitive learning, skills affect and objective results. The analytics engines in these simulations record, analyze and provide a detailed report on the participants’ interaction throughout the simulation.

There is no such analytics possible in traditional learning methods. While the learning itself is based and delivered in a non-data driven approach, the assessments rarely provide any kind of insight into the impact of the training program.

Experiential Learning Enables Personalized Learning

Traditional learning methods are extremely impersonal and do not take into account the specific needs of the individual, focusing more on the mass approach.

In order to enable personalized learning, every program needs to create a journey through the following phases: Assessment, teaching and learning strategy, and curriculum choice. The experiential learning methodology is highly effective in meeting these requirements to enable personalized learning. It is a radical departure from traditional learning methods and takes the learning beyond the classroom.

The participants set their own learning pace. By combining technology and simulations with experiential learning, companies are making this concept available anytime and anywhere, across multiple devices. This has introduced the concepts of flipped classroom, where the learning goes to the students and not the other way.

Experiential Learning Delivers Exceptional Return on Investment (RoI)

Experiential learning is personal and effective in nature, influencing both feelings and emotions as well as enhancing knowledge and skills. It goes beyond classroom learning and ensures that there is high level of retention, thereby delivering exceptional RoI over a traditional learning program.

It is not possible to apprehend the RoI on a traditional learning program, as these are non-data driven and impersonal. The retention of learning cannot be gauged either.

So, be prepared to revolutionize your training program.


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KNOLSKAPE is a global leader in experiential learning with a mission to help organizations and employees become future ready. Using a large award-winning portfolio of simulations aligned with 100+ competencies and cutting-edge talent intelligence, KNOLSKAPE produces stellar outcomes for more than 375+ organizations across 75 countries. Driven by research and thought leadership, KNOLSKAPE offers its products and solutions in a flexible subscription model powered by omni-channel delivery.

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