A powerful tool for developing skills and knowledge in the classroom and workplace, simulations have become a key part of educational and experiential technology. Alongside role-playing exercises, case studies, and group projects, business simulations are considered learning activities that can be applied to drive participants’ engagement and improve their experience in the educational process. In short, it’s more fun, more memorable, and offers deeper insight to engage with simulations.
In this experiential learning guide, we will explore some key factors to consider in this approach to education, such as:
• What is experiential learning?
• How does it compare to traditional methods?
• What are the advantages of experiential learning?
• How does learning in the flow of work benefit employers and employees?
• What can be taught through experiential learning?
• How to get started?
Armed with this knowledge, you can then start to look at the tools and strategies you will need to create meaningful and impactful learning experiences for your students or colleagues.
What is Experiential Learning?
At its fundamental core, experiential learning is simply learning through experience and reflection. Those who take part will actively engage in an activity or simulation to develop their skills and knowledge, as opposed to being taught didactically (such as in lectures) or via reading materials.
How? Business simulations, role-playing exercises, case studies, workshops, and group projects are the most common forms of experiential learning.
Why? The goal of experiential learning is to provide participants with opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations and to reflect on their experiences to deepen their understanding and develop new insights. Along the way, they have opportunities to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills, among others.
How Does it Compare to Traditional Methods?
The main observable difference between experiential learning and traditional learning is that the former places emphasis on being an active participant, whereas the latter asks you to be a passive observer and recipient of instruction.
Traditional learning methods include:
Each of these traditional educational methods wants to transmit information from the source to the learner. As an alternative to this style, experiential learning allows learners to apply the skills and knowledge they already have to pre-designed situations. These situations are simulated to mimic the real world but can be played out over and over as a form of training, allowing the participant to reflect on their performance and experience to deepen their understanding.
Due to the reflective and adaptive nature of experiential learning, it is more likely to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills, as well as a deeper and more involved understanding and appreciation of the subject matter. While both methods have their benefits, experiential learning can be particularly effective in preparing learners for real-world challenges and situations.
What are the Advantages of Experiential Learning?
Below are some reasons we believe experiential learning to be advantageous to the learning process.
Active engagement: Experiential learning encourages learners to actively engage in the learning process, which can be more effective than passive observation and instruction. Active learning is thought to embed what is learned deeper into human memory.
Real-world application: Experiential learning provides opportunities for learners to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations, which can help them better understand and appreciate the subject matter. For instance, business simulations that are industry and role-relevant give professionals a chance to see actions and consequences without real risk.
Skill development: Experiential learning can help learners develop a range of skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.
Deeper understanding: Experiential learning allows learners to reflect on their experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter, which can help them retain information and apply it more effectively. Essentially, we remember the things we do, better than the things we are told.
Personal growth: Experiential learning can also promote personal growth and development by challenging learners to step out of their comfort zones, take risks, and develop new perspectives and insights. This is key to making learners more creative and ambitious with their decisions.
How Does Learning in the Flow of Work Benefit Employers and Employees?
“Learning in the flow of work” is a new paradigm for corporate training that benefits both employers and employees by providing opportunities for continuous learning and development that align with job responsibilities and performance goals. Similar to continued professional development (CPD), it coincides with the belief that employees are best served when they learn as they work, helping them to be more efficient in their roles.
• For employers, this approach can improve workforce productivity, increase employee engagement and retention, and help build a culture of learning and innovation.
• For employees, learning in the flow of work can enhance job performance, build skills and competencies, and provide opportunities for career growth and advancement.
By integrating learning and development into the daily work experience, employers can support their employees' ongoing development while also meeting business objectives. This type of “learning in the flow of work” can be achieved in several ways, including:
• Performance reviews with actionable guidance
• Integrated learning with new resources and tools
• Self-directed learning opportunities such as industry-related educational platforms, micro-learning platforms, and tutorials
• Coaching and mentoring from experts
• Business simulations that relate to the day-to-day tasks and ongoing operations
What Can Be Taught Through Experiential Techniques?
Here are just 10 examples of what can be taught through experiential techniques, however, there are many more things that can be acquired by learners:
1 Leadership and team-building skills
2 Communication and interpersonal skills
3 Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
4 Conflict resolution and negotiation skills
5 Time management and organization skills
6 Creative thinking and innovation skills
7 Cultural awareness and diversity training
8 Sales and customer service skills
9 Marketing and branding strategies
10 Financial management and budgeting skills
How to Get Started
In conclusion, experiential learning is a powerful tool for developing skills and knowledge in a range of contexts. The best methods, such as business simulations, provide participants with opportunities to actively engage in the learning process and apply their knowledge in real-world situations.
If you are interested in using business simulations to enhance your team's performance, we invite you to get started with our product. Our simulations are designed to provide participants with realistic business scenarios that challenge them to think critically, make decisions, and collaborate effectively.
Contact us today to learn more and get started on your journey towards more effective experiential learning.