The Importance of Experiential Learning

 The Importance of Experiential Learning

Tulika Srivastava, Director - People Solutions, Altisource, 0

There is a famous quote by the English poet, John Keats, "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." Even more relevant in the current times! After all, we are living in the age dominated by a combination of millennials and Gen Z; for whom interaction-based communication and self-improvement are two of the few critical characteristics.

I have invested the last 19 years of my life growing ground-up and learning with every ‘next phase’, evolving as an individual and professional. There is no denying that conceptual learning is the foundation of our understanding, but experience is what solidifies it. As a naïve example, remember how as kids, we were instructed to not touch a hot iron because it is dangerous? Until one day we decided to! When the concept of being ‘dangerous’ married the bruised hand, the learning became crystal. That’s called experience!

Now that we have an innocent understanding of the importance of experiential learning, let’s describe them in a more pertinent way.

Offers Clarity
When you gain theoretical understanding of any activity or concept, your imagination is under severe pressure. There is always room for doubts, lack of thought or alignment to it. When combined with a hands-on, you are exposed to a whole new paradigm. You experience the concept factually and discover areas that envelope it as well. This enhances your knowledge of the task at hand.

Increases Involvement
When you undergo theoretical learning, whether offline or online, your eyes, ears and hopefully your brain are invested. However, when you undergo experiential
learning, your mind is heavily invested because there is activity involved, thereby improving the learning experience.

Improves Networking / Cross-Work Culture Experiential learning can lead to offering or requiring assistance from various groups, people, or functions. This helps improve collaboration and improve your networking skills.

Improves Learning by Offering Scope to Err
While it offers experience, it still is a learning environment. Experiential learning offers the scope to make mistakes and learn from them. This helps increase learning manifolds.

When combined with a hands-on, you are exposed to a whole new paradigm. You experience the concept factually and discover areas that envelope it as well

Enhances Creativity
Experiential learning is not math, where two plus two must be four. One problem can have multiple approaches leading to a solution. It’s people-dependent and helps you think more dynamically and work out the best solution for the given situation.

Comes with Valuable by-Products
Since experiential learning is a step ahead of theoretical understanding, it offers too many branches / aids to an activity or situation. For instance, when I started years ago as a Trainer, my starting point was to understand what a trainer does (conceptual). This then translated to experiential learning with mentor sessions, shadow sessions, reporting and presenting training performance. This experiential learning translated to many valuable by-products like knowledge on data management, stakeholder management, presentation skills and planning.

So, to strengthen one’s foundation further, back every learning with hands-on. This might not always guarantee success but will better prepare you to face let-downs and bounce back stronger!

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