What is Experiential Learning?

The word ‘Experiential’ infers that there is an experience aspect to the learning exercise. In essence, it means that learning and development are achieved through personal experience and involvement.
This differs from the other forms of learning where an individual typically learns within a group and through listening and observation or by studying theories or models. It is, however, fair to say that different types of learning and development are required for different purposes.
Where there is a requirement for knowledge and skills transfer, conventional training is acceptable. However, in terms of addressing an individual’s growth and potential, it does not complete the job.
Teambuilding Solutions argue that experiential learning is the most powerful way to address the growth and potential of individuals. The format of workshops can be designed, determined and controlled by the workshop designer. The main purpose of these types of workshops is for personal development and growth and is easily adaptable for individual behavioural styles and preferences, (such as found in Belbin, SDI or Myers Briggs for example), strengths, improving communication, etc.
Due to its nature, experiential learning is much more likely to produce positive emotional effects, particularly affecting confidence, self esteem and a sense of personal value.
An important thing to remember is that we have a number of learning tools available to us, and we should select the correct option for the specific team. Only the correct balance will achieve the desired outcomes. The Teambuilding Solutions method is to combine conventional learning, where an individual’s need for knowledge is satisfied, with experiential learning, where the theories associated with teambuilding can be put into action. In this way, the emphasis is on developing people as individuals. If we can have a positive impact upon an individuals confidence, personal strengths, self esteem and their self of purpose, these are equally important for productive work as so called ‘essential skills’ and knowledge.
Fun
Experiential learning can also provide employers the opportunity for employees to understand that training and learning can be fun. We have found, on numerous occasions, that barriers put up at the start of a session because of previous experience, suddenly come tumbling down as they actually enjoy the experience. We have also had some of the best feedback from those people when they appreciate that they can learn and develop whilst having fun!
Level playing field
Another important aspect of experiential learning is that your level of education will not make a difference in your success or failure in a task. This means that the process becomes available to cross functional teams of different educational ability. This is possible because of its unique core function – the focus on the individual.

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