Experiential vs blended learning – which is for you?

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Giving employees the skills they need to do their job successfully is a never-ending challenge for businesses. There is always some new technique staff should have or policy that requires training, meaning you’re likely to continually be faced with the challenge of deciding the best approach to deliver information and develop talent.

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There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to training and each scenario will often require a different approach.

It’s important to remember that learning should be as bespoke as your company, specifically crafted to fill a certain need. Only this way will you find success.

However, there are two ways of learning that have proved popular in the past and these are experiential and blended learning, both available at Wyboston Lakes.

To find the one that best fits your needs, it’s important to understand their differences and similarities.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning theory was first proposed by David Kolb, who defined the approach as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”.

Unlike most approaches to learning, it doesn’t rely solely on the cognitive process, but emphasises the role of experiences to influence the way we develop skills and knowledge.

The Experiential Learning Centre at the University of Colorado claims experiential learning is anything that requires reflection, critical analysis and synthesis. It should allow students to take the initiative, make decisions and be accountable for the results.

Participants should also be able to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially or even physically.

An experiential learning experience is likely to include the possibility of learning from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.

So when should you be using this technique with your staff?

Experiential learning is great for giving employees real-world experience, which in turn gives them the confidence to go out and use their skills in the workplace.

An example might be getting staff to use a new programme during a training day or trialing business simulation.

Blended learning

Blended learning combines instructor-led sessions with the online delivery of content and instruction.

This approach is growing in popularity for its cost-effectiveness, easy deployment and ability to be customised to suit individual needs.

What’s more, it’s easy for instructors to monitor performance and collate information about the skills of staff.

However, it’s important to remember that blended learning isn’t simply getting students to do a computer game, simulation or online test.

Computer-based education has to be blended with instructor and peer interaction, in which participants learn from each other but also have content available that is tailored to their individual needs.

Nevertheless, it is ideal for giving staff more control over how and when they learn, as resources can be accessed at all times (theoretically). What’s more, individuals often become more observant of how they learn and can more easily track their own progress.

Blended learning is a great approach for teaching large groups and communicating swaths of information that might need to be absorbed differently depending on the role of the staff member.

It also frees up instructors to spend more one-on-one time with participants, as attendees learn independently and at a different pace.

For this reason this approach has become popular in schools and could be incredibly useful during the initial training stage when taking on new staff.

However, blended learning is dependent on the technology you have available so be sure that your training venue is fully equipped.