Taking an Experiential Learning Approach for Training

Taking an Experiential Learning Approach for Training

If you are a trainer or educator of adults, you likely already understand that training or classroom time is precious. The challenge is to get learners to appreciate that what you are delivering to them meets their needs, matches their personal learning goals, and is relevant. One means of accomplishing this is through applying brain research to your learning events.  By taking an experiential approach to learning and tying into brain-based learning research, you can help create connections in the brain and facilitate the likelihood that learning will be used once the session is over.

Taking an Experiential Learning Approach to Training

Taking an Experiential Learning Approach for Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

As adults and professionals in a given field, your learners likely already have a base knowledge of the content that you plan to share with them. For that reason, you must take the information learned from your needs analysis and create links or short-cuts between what they know and what you have planned. For example, if you are facilitating a workshop for a group of experienced supervisors, they likely have already been exposed to the basics of coaching, counseling, communicating, motivating, and providing performance feedback to employees. If these are topic areas covered in your session, you will need to think of ways to show learners how to more systematically and logically use the knowledge and skills they possess to improve their on-the-job performance.

An easy way to help learners see how to apply what they are learning is to provide the format or structure for using knowledge or skills in the classroom, perhaps in the form of a model or through a team game activity. You could then give them an opportunity to work in small groups to determine ways of applying their new knowledge and skills in their work environments. Through this technique, they actually take what you give and customize it to their individual needs while receiving feedback from their peers on how it might be improved. In this fashion, when they walk out of the room, they have real-world knowledge, skills, and strategies that can be applied immediately.

Practical application and taking an experiential learning approach for training sessions and education typically add more value to any learning experience and enhances return on investment. It can also enhance your session evaluation results.

More Information On This Topic & It’s Blogger

For activities and games to engage your learners, get a copy of Creative Learning: Games and Activities That Really Engage People.

Learn All About Robert W. ‘Bob’ Lucas Now and Understand Why He is an Authority in the Creative Training Skills Industry

Robert W. ‘Bob’ Lucas has been a trainer, presenter, customer service expert, and adult educator for over four decades. He has written hundreds of articles on training, writing, self-publishing, and workplace learning skills and issues. He is also an award-winning author. Robert W. Lucas has written thirty-seven books. The book topics included: writing, relationships, customer service, brain-based learning, and creative training strategies, interpersonal communication, diversity, and supervisory skills. Additionally, he has contributed articles, chapters, and activities to eighteen compilation books. Mr. Lucas is retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after twenty-two years of active and reserve service.

Six Factors Affecting Active Learning

Six Factors Affecting Active Learning

Active, brain-based, experiential, and accelerated learning are terms used for training initiatives that involve getting learners to become active participants in your sessions. Various theories and research related to adult learning and brain-based learning indicate that through active involvement, participants become more vested in the session outcomes and are more likely to gain, retain, recall and use what they experience.

Six Factors Affecting Active Learning

Six Factors Affecting Active Learning by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adulting Learning Author

Consider the following factors when you sit down to create activities and initiatives that will involve and stimulate your learners.

Audience Makeup.

Ensure that you choose activities and content that are appropriate for the group you will be facilitating. Some activities (e.g. role-play) work best when participants know one another well or are comfortable with one another. Talk to program sponsors and/or participants in advance when possible and before you design your content and activities in order to determine who will comprise your audience.

Participant Knowledge and Experience Levels. 

To successfully build on what learners know, you must first determine current capabilities. You can do this through a training needs assessment process that is part of a standard instructional systems design (ADDIE) process. Also, ensure that the planned activity suits the audience level (e.g. frontline employee, supervisor, manager, or executive). Otherwise, you can easily either intimidate or bore your learners with your planned activities.

Desired Involvement.

Decide how, and to what extent, you want to involve participants. While much self-discovery is possible, you will need to intermingle your own involvement with that of your learners.

Available Time.

One mark of a professional creative trainer is to be able to accomplish established learning objectives and planned activities within the allotted timeframe in a seemingly effortless manner. When selecting activities, ensure that the time limit set is realistic and allows for successful completion and debriefing without intruding on other planned program segments.

Training Venue.

Take care to select a facility that has space and equipment needed to conduct planned activities. When possible, actually visit the site so that you can visualize layout and activities. Also, talk to the people who will do the room set up for the session to ensure that they understand your needs. Do not count on a third-party relaying your needs to setup people.

Group Size.

Choose activities that are appropriate for the size of your audience and ensure that co-facilitators are planned if necessary.

If you effectively plan and oversee the activity process, chances are that learners will feel a sense of accomplishment and that learning will more likely occur.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Connect Energizers to Adult Learning Objectives To Enhance Transfer Of Training

Connect Energizers to Adult Learning Objectives To Enhance Transfer Of Training

Connect Energizers to Adult Learning Objectives To Enhance Transfer Of Training

Always ensure that energizers (and anything else that you do in an adult learning environment) have sound purposes tied to your learning objectives. Never have learners participate in an activity simply to entertain or engage them. Doing so may cost you credibility and value in the eyes of your participants. It can also lose future management support and investment in your programs.

Connect Energizers to Adult Learning Objectives To Enhance Training

Instead, develop energizers that challenge learners to think and practice real-world skills that relate to session content and promote the learning outcomes you are seeking.

Like anything else in adult learning, your training design, development, and delivery efforts should be shrouded under brain-based learning research. By applying adult learning theory tenets and using experiential learning activities and games that actively engage your learner’s minds and bodies, you are more likely to affect better learning outcomes and have participants immediately apply what they learn on the job.

For specific creative training ideas related to accelerated learning strategies and how to create a brain-based learning training environment, get copies of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Experiential Learning Strategies Help Engage Adult Learners and Maximize Learning Outcomes

Experiential Learning Strategies Help Engage Adult Learners and Maximize Learning Outcomes

Experiential Learning Strategies Help Engage Adult Learners and Maximize Learning Outcomes

Facilitators and trainers should constantly strive to learn and use accelerated or experiential learning strategies and activities (i.e. energizers). These can help make their learning environments more fun, engaging and effective. Session leaders should also explore keep up with the latest brain-based learning research in order to identify ways to better incorporate activities, games and environmental elements. Some studies indicate that factors, such as color, light, sound, music, and nutrition can help stimulate a learner’s brain.

Experiential Learning Strategies Help Engage Adult Learners and Maximize Learning Outcomes by The Creative Trainer 

Effective energizers are great for getting adult learners up and out of their seats and physically and mentally involved. As a facilitator, you should strive to conduct creative training activities that will address all three adult learning styles/modalities (e.g. visual, auditory and kinesthetic). You should also create a state of active learner engagement throughout the session. This allows adult learners to become active participants in the learning process.

Experiential learning strategies like energizer activities and games help reinforce learning of key session concepts. By allowing learners to network and work in groups, they can share ideas and identify solutions to workplace issues and problems. You can use case studies and roleplay to facilitate interaction and help accomplish your learning objectives.

Search this site for additional articles on this topic. For other creative experiential learning strategies and techniques that can help foster a more stimulating and effective adult learning environment, get copies or The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events that Get Results, and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.

Combining Accelerated Learning and Brain-Based Research to Benefit Learners

Combining Accelerated Learning and Brain Based Research to Benefit Learners

Combining Accelerated Learning and Brain-Based Research to Benefit Learners

Brain-based learning theorists and researchers have been working for decades to discover new information on how to effectively increase learning and memory in adult learners. Some of the things that they have found most effective involve active learner engagement techniques and strategies related to accelerated learning.

Combining Accelerated Learning with Research

By tapping into studies and findings by Malcolm Knowles (Adult Learning Theory), Georgi Lozanov, and a variety of brain researchers, creative trainers can more effectively enhance learning outcomes.

If these ideas and creating an adult learning environment that can engage adult learners and help them better gain and assimilate what they experience, get copies of my books The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Accelerated Learning Quote – Aristotle

Accelerated Learning Quote - Aristotle

Accelerated Learning Quote – Aristotle

Brain-based research into how the brain best learns and assimilates information, so that it can later be acted upon, continues to support concepts of adult learning identified by Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory decades ago.

Accelerated Learning Quote – Aristotle by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author, and Blogger for the Training Industry

For true learning and transfer of training to occur, adult learners must be actively engaged in the learning process.

For more thoughts and creative strategies on how to apply brain-based and accelerated learning concepts in training, get copies of Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People, The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques in for Engaging and Effective Learning and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners. 

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at www.robertwlucas.com or his blog www.thecreativetrainer.com.

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps – Part II

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps – Part II

One key lesson that I learned during my career in the Marine Corps is that there is always a need and opportunity for creativity. In military operations, every member of the unit is an intricate part of the effort to accomplish the mission or objective. Innovation, thinking outside the box, and continually trying new strategies often results in the best result when trying to accomplish something.  Similarly, in a training environment facilitators and learners must partner and work together to accomplish the best possible results and to maximize learning outcome(s).

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps - Part IILearning after the Corps

After I left active duty and moved into a parallel training career in the Marine Corps Reserves and as a civilian training professional, I began to explore the latest research on learning and performance as part of my first Master’s degree program. As part of my studies, I became aware of the research and tenets of an accelerated training system known as suggestopedia that had been developed by Bulgarian psychiatrist and educator, Dr. Georgi Lozanov.

In an accelerated learning environment, elements such as color, music, group activity, and novelty are incorporated to help aid learning and stimulate the senses. This relates directly to the brain-based learning research that has been going on for several decades.

Coming from a rigid, instructor-led training classroom environment that is highly dependent on the knowledge and skills of the trainer, I was excited to see how the “other half” trained and educated adults once I left the Marine Corps. I embarked on immersion of the theories and approaches developed by numerous brain-based learning researchers and trainers to create and modify my own style of instruction that has been modified and enhanced since that time.

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps Part II by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas

My observations of training and development professionals who added environmental elements, such as, interactivity, small group activities, and a variety of creative learning strategies offered a glimpse into where my approach to training and educating adults would go in the future. It also provided a basis for many of my books on the topic of creative training ideas and strategies.

Obviously, the Marines have always done a great job of incorporating practical applications and demonstrations to build skills in their personnel. Still, having research on how learning takes place and new ideas on engaging learners in multiple environments was exhilarating and provided limitless new opportunities with which I could experiment. I soon added new elements to my learning sessions that could potentially help increase learner retention and application of what was experienced.

The decade of the brain

Following the 1980s, the next decade — often referred to the “Decade of the Brain”– was ushered in. During that period, there was somewhat of a renaissance of knowledge about how the brain can best process, store memories, and access information. Through the use of medical technology like PET, MRI, and CT scans researchers and neuroscientists were able to explore living brains as never before. As they introduced various sensory stimuli and observe the reactions within the brain, they were able to pinpoint reactions in various regions of the brain.

Applying brain-based research to the classroom

Educators have been able to extrapolate key information related to learning from the data and have found applications for it in various educational environments for students. Adult educators and learning and performance professionals also began to use this new knowledge to design, develop, and deliver learning in ways that they had never done before. Brain-based learning school systems and environments sprang up everywhere around the world while learning and development professionals have also carried this new approach to their adult learners.

For creative and innovative ways to transfer knowledge and skills and engage your learners, get copies of some of Bob’s books: The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Strategies for Engaging and Effective Learning;  Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People; Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners; and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results.

Release Your Creativity in the Classroom

Release Your Creativity in the Classroom

I have been researching and using creative training strategies and techniques for the past three decades and I continue to marvel at the new ideas that surface from my peers. With all the research into brain functioning and implementation of technology as a learning tool, creative strategies continue to surface daily. If you search the Internet or sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, you will find thousands of articles, blogs (such as this one), publications, and video/audio products that can provide useful and thought-provoking ideas to enhance your learning environments.

Release Your Creativity in the Classroom

Some useful resources follow. They can aid in your search for new games, activities, and creative strategies to help engage participants and increase the opportunity for learning to occur.

Release Your Creativity in the Classroom by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Training Industry Author

YouTube videos under categories such as brain-based learning, creative training, creative learning, creativity, and adult learning.

Google search for terms such as brain-based learning, creative training, creative trainer, and creativity in the classroom. Some of the listings you will find involve educational settings for children, but ideas and techniques can be modified to suit adult learners in many instances. Just put on your creative thinking hat!

Amazon or Barnes and Noble search for books on brain-based learning, creative training (strategies, techniques, ideas, etc), creative thinking, adult learning/andragogy, accelerated learning, icebreakers, training games/activities, and related topics.  Keep in mind that you sometimes have to switch words around to find what you are looking for. For example, “Creativity in training” and “Trainer creativity” searches result in different listings.

For additional creative ideas to enhance your learning environment, get copies of The Creative Trainer Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners, The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators, and Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear?

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear?

Making learning fun while accomplishing your stated learning objectives is a good way to stimulate learning and tie into brain-based learning research on how participants learn best.

Energizer Training Activity - What Do I Wear?

By actively engaging your adult learners, you are tapping into basic tenets of adult learning (andragogy) and encouraging learners to become active participants in the information exchange process.

This activity is an easy way to encourage learner participation providing a forum for future information exchange.

Energizer Training Activity – What Do I Wear? by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Brain-Based Adult Training Author

Time:  30-45 Minutes (depending on group size)

Group Size:    24-30

Purpose:  To provide an opportunity for learners who work in the same organization to get to know one another a bit better. This activity also allows them to have a bit of fun while doing getting to know one another in sessions dealing with diversity, non-communication, team building, customer service, or other topics where relationships and understanding others is an important desired outcome.

Objectives:     Through the use of this activity, learners will be able to:

  • Get to know one another better on a more personal level.
  • Recognize that predispositions about others may create challenges in relationships.

Process:

  • At the beginning of a session, have participants form small, equal-sized groups (5-8 people) at round tables.
  • Explain that participants have been invited to a costume party.
  • They have two minutes to decide what costume they would wear.
  • Have everyone write their costume choice and nothing else on a strip of paper that you provide.
  • After everyone has written their answer, they should fold it and put it in the center of their table.
  • Instruct all participants to retrieve one strip of paper from the center of the table and one by one open it.
  • After all, participants have opened their paper and read what is written, have them introduce themselves one-by-one (e.g. who they are, where they are from, where they work, why they are attending the session, or whatever you prefer to have them disclose).
  • Following the introductions, have each person turn their paper over and write down the name of the person that they believe wrote the costume name on the other side.
  • Once everyone has done this, have them one at a timeshare who they believe the owner to be and why. 

Debrief:

  • Ask for a show of hands of how many people guessed correctly.
  • Ask those who guessed incorrectly, why they believe they might have done so.
  • Ask those who were correct what led them to believe the person they chose wrote their paper.
  • Hold a general discussion related to how we sometimes make assumptions about others and that can create challenges in relationships.

Materials Needed: Three-inch strips of paper.

For more ideas on engaging learners see Lucas, Robert W., Creative Learning: Activities and Games That REALLY Engage People, Jossey Bass/Pfeiffer, San Francisco, CA.