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Experiential learning : How to develop it ans monitor its impact?

Evan Friburg |

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby learners “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. In theory, it seems like an excellent learning method in companies. But in practice, it can easily look like informal learning: the tracking of experiential learning still needs to be improved!

1. “Learning by doing” for skills development

The first advantage of experiential learning is: it is an excellent way of upskilling your employees. A parallel can be drawn with the 70/20/10 model, which suggests that 70% of learning happens through practice and experience. However, in companies, this 70% has long been considered as informal learning because it is untraceable. This means that we are aware that the employee acquires skills by practicing, but it is impossible to know precisely which actions have enabled them to develop their skills and to what extent.

Experiential learning, if well implemented, can turn that into formal learning. It is the whole point of the method: with experiential learning, the action is identified as a learning material, it can be linked to one or several skills (needed for the proper execution of the action) and it can be tracked. No matter the individual’s job, we can easily guess what positive impact learning by doing can have: for example, the more you use a tool, the more you master it; the more you manage people, the better manager you will be… Even though theoretical knowledge and/or training are often prerequisites for a good practice, obviously. The second advantage of experiential learning is: it can limit the learning costs. First, the logistical costs associated with face-to-face training are non-existent: the booking of a training room, the travel and accommodation costs for the employee, etc. Besides, the learning material is designed in a radically different way: it is no longer about buying an e-learning course, designing a learning path internally or even having an external instructor lead a virtual classroom. With experiential learning, everyone learns in their day-to-day work by carrying out actions related to their job.

character sitting at a desk working

2. Monitoring experiential learning is not an easy task

As mentioned above, in companies, experiential learning can be turned into formal learning through traceability. But tracking experiential learning is more complex than for more traditional learning activities (face-to-face, virtual classroom, e-learning, etc.). Indeed, by definition, experiential learning is rooted in the employee’s daily life. This means that the employee learns during times that have not been dedicated to learning so far.

A tutor is essential to monitor the learning activities. Ideally, there should be a human tutor (a manager or an expert, for example) capable of supporting each employee in their experiential learning. However, for a truly scalable system, a “digital tutor” can be used: a tool that enables to monitor the experiential learning carried out by employees.

For this, there are a few requirements:

1.   The experiential learning to be done by an individual must be included in course catalogues and related to job requirements. The aim is to identify it clearly (in the same way as a traditional learning material) and to link it to the skill(s) that it develops.

2.   The experiential learning must be contextualized and assigned to the right people in the company. Indeed, two employees who have to develop the same skill but do not have the same daily work activities will not be able to carry out the same experiential learning. It must be feasible according to the job, missions and daily life of the employee.

3.   The experiential learning must be measured in terms of success. The digital tool must collect feedback on the successful completion of the experiential learning: by employees themselves (in a self-training logic), by their manager, by an expert, etc.

3. Domoscio and experiential learning

If e-learning now exists in the form of micro-learning, experiential learning can be implemented in the form of micro-action! This is the approach adopted by Domoscio. Rather than dedicating half a day to carry out an experiential learning, the employee is invited to carry out micro-actions distributed over time in order to easily juggle with their different missions.

This micro-action approach is integrated into the spaced repetition solution Domoscio Lock. It can be used alone or as a complement to a traditional learning path. In this case, the approach is as follows:

  • Step 1: I learn the theoretical knowledge and/or practice in training (face-to-face or digital)
  • Step 2: with Domoscio, I develop and consolidate my skills by applying the micro-actions suggested to me in an individualized way
  • Step 3: with Domoscio, I assess my practice and success

For the employee, everything is done to guarantee their engagement and use in the daily work activities: it is available as a web and mobile application, the experiential learning materials are short (micro-actions), they are sent to the employee via push notifications and they are presented in the form of “challenges” to gamify the approach. Besides, the spaced repetition algorithm developed by Domoscio makes the experience automatically individualized according to the needs of each person. The employee can now reinforce over the long term the technical and behavioral skills needed to perform in their job. Finally, the reporting available to supervisors ensures the traceability of the experiential learning.