Creating Learning Experiences that Matter
People learn from their experiences. Any engagement, interaction, or program providing a teachable moment can be considered a learning experience. An effective learning experience can inspire memorable training that helps learners achieve a desired outcome. Such an experience would typically simulate real-life situations that offer learners a sense of participation and a high level of engagement, relevance, and information retention.
But what makes a learning experience effective? Successful training should add value. Learners don’t just need courses for the sake of completion; they require experiences that will show positive results. As an L&D professional, you want to put learners’ needs first and design a deliberate learning journey for them. Here are some guidelines for creating learning experiences with impact.
Break it down
As workforce learning can be overwhelming at times, it is better to break down the information into digestible chunks. Learners process these small pieces of knowledge and bring them together to form something more meaningful, which ultimately helps in retention. For example, rather than having to memorize a lengthy and complex procedure for network systems initialization, the procedure can be broken down into phases so that the learners can understand the material in an organized and structured way. In addition to reducing the cognitive load, dividing up the content also helps learners organize and synthesize the information before moving on to the next lesson.
Try interval training
A single exposure to any new information is not adequate for long-term retention. Even basic information can be forgotten if not used regularly. One way to improve recall is by introducing time intervals between learning sessions. This is called spaced repetition. For instance, flashcard activities can be used to reiterate technical or business-specific terms, so that the learners will encounter them repeatedly. Revisiting the content periodically can help learners beat the “forgetting curve.”
Make it relatable
Aligning the training material with learners’ roles in the organization can help them apply the knowledge back to the job. Applications furnished with animations and videos make learning engaging and interesting. Learners find this environment relatable and gain confidence to face the real-life situations. During aeronautical pilot training, for example, creating an environment such as a flight simulator programmed for crisis scenarios will help pilots to handle the real-life emergencies under pressure.
Build a foundation
New learning is built on prior knowledge. When learners start connecting past experiences with new information, they have a foundation upon which to develop new concepts, facts, and ideas. Before teaching complex procedures, learners can relate to the simple processes in their core area of expertise. Understanding foundational cognitive behavior enables instructional designers to create a learning design that promotes progressive learning. Once learners have a foundational knowledge base, they will be able to absorb more complex concepts. The more we try to help learners engage their prior experiences, the less likely they are to misinterpret the new information.
Learners feel motivated when they are actively moving along a path to successful outcomes. The sense of direction allows them to focus on the target rather than drifting aimlessly. Goals also help learners measure the progress against benchmarks. As a best practice, providing leaning objectives at the beginning of a module can help learners understand the intention of the session and help them advance undistracted until they achieve the goal.
Collaborative exercises encourage learners with different skills, passions, and knowledge to work together in small groups. Learners bounce questions and ideas off one another to gain new knowledge and understand different perspectives. For instance, a group could be shown a video about communication skills and encouraged to discuss ways to improve interpersonal exchanges in the given scenario. Such group exercises can foster collaborative learning and higher-level thinking.
Experience matters for successful learning, through better absorption and retention of new information. Don’t confine your learners to tedious and forgettable tasks when you could design engaging and effective experiences that facilitate sticky learning.
To learn more about how KnowledgeWorks Global Learning can help you create effective learning experiences, please contact Kelly.Lake@kwglobal.com.