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Transforming learning in the virtual age - the experiential learning approach

A post by cofounder Dr Geoff Cox on the transformative affect of technology

4th January 2024

Transforming learning in the virtual age - the experiential learning approach
In recent times, I've found myself deeply pondering the nature of learning events that converge diverse minds. It's crucial that both the content and the approach to delivery are thoughtfully curated. A pivotal element of these gatherings should be geared towards moulding behaviour—often termed affective learning—rather than merely disseminating knowledge or cognitive learning.

The Crux of the Matter: Deeds Over Words

Why this focus on behaviour? The simple truth is this: an organisation's effectiveness relies more on its people's actions than their knowledge. This isn't to belittle the importance of knowledge, but the way individuals enact and utilise this knowledge is what ultimately shapes daily performance indicators.

After investing substantial resources in bringing individuals together for behavioural learning, it stands to reason that the working environment should reinforce these newly developed behaviours. In this regard, both managers and Learning and Development (L&D) professionals play a pivotal role in maintaining this impetus.

We might refer to this impetus as 'reinforcement psychology', which increases the probability of a particular behaviour being repeated. Managers should foster an environment that consistently recognises and rewards the desired behaviours, while L&D specialists must craft systematic interventions for ongoing behaviour-focused learning.

Pandemic Era: An Unanticipated Catalyst
Interestingly, the constraints brought about by the pandemic served as an unintended experimental ground for reimagining learning. The shift towards remote working necessitated new behaviours, thereby accelerating the adoption of remote learning. While imparting knowledge remotely was relatively straightforward, shaping behaviour remotely presented considerable challenges.

Against this backdrop, at Experiential Learning Tools, we experienced a transformative period. Drawing on our expertise in experiential learning, we developed tools specifically designed for virtual environments.

Leveraging Virtual Tools for Affective Learning
Our diverse range of virtual tools offer the same behavioural learning curriculum as their in-person counterparts. We've noticed that clients effectively employ them, underscoring the psychological reinforcement of event-driven learning.

The essence of focused experiential learning lies in its repetitiveness. David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, a bedrock of modern pedagogy, clarifies this through its four stages:

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Reflective Observation
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation
  4. Active Experimentation

Notably, the final stage, which entails applying the learned concepts, naturally transitions into a new learning cycle. This continuity of experiences ensures that the learning is both resonant and enduring.

Many of our clients have utilised these tools to integrate face-to-face sessions with remote, experiential-based engagements, creating a more comprehensive and reinforced learning experience.

Towards a Rejuvenated Learning Landscape
We're moving into an era of renewed experiential learning, where learning professionals orchestrate on-site events and managers conduct regular, straightforward reinforcement activities. The focus is on cultivating behaviours that correspond with organisational goals. It's a domain where individuals proactively navigate their learning paths.

If you envisage such a transformative learning culture for your organisation, we're ready to lead the way. Reach out to us, and let's revolutionise learning together.

Geoff Cox @trailpikerake

Learning Design Director at Experiential Learning Tools

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