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Experiential learning, a non-definitive list of some of our favourite methods

This one is for the trainers and would-be trainers out there…

Today I want to talk about experiential learning, also known as (EXL). EXL is defined as the process of learning through experience, more specifically as "learning through reflection on doing". Throughout 2019, we have been blending our well-known, accredited best practice e-learning programmes, like PRINCE2 Agile®, PRINCE2®, ITIL® 4, APMG-International Change Management™, APMG-International Better Business Cases™, APMG-International Managing Benefits™, and Business Analysis, with practical, ‘experiential’ classroom sessions. The focus of these sessions is always on the practical implementation of the methods/tools/processes. We answer questions like; how do you implement them in a complex business environment? How do you really improve the business outcomes using the best practice? How do you improve customer experience whilst saving time and money…in real life?

To this end, and with the help of our esteemed trainers and consultants, we came up with a number of different training techniques and approaches to engage participants in an experiential way, to improve knowledge transfer. Below is a non-prioritised, non-definitive list of some of our favourite experiential learning methods, which I hope will be useful to you.

  1. Point, Story, Application (PSA)

    • P - make a POINT about something that has had a massive impact on you, be it a model, concept or idea.
    • S - tell a STORY to bring it to life and share how it has worked for you and/or others.
    • A - get the audience to think about how they can APPLY it in their roles.

  2.  Think, Pair, Share (TPS)

    • T - get people to THINK about how they can use a model that you have just shared.
    • P - ask them to PAIR up and discuss how they can use it with the person sat next to them.
    • S - ask a few people to SHARE their ideas with the rest of the group.

  3. Game, Ask, Practical (GAP)

    • G - start with a GAME or exercise that illuminates a gap in knowledge or an embedded behaviour/way of thinking. Ideally, something that appears to be about one thing, but is a metaphor for something else...
    • A - ASK delegates what their gap in knowledge is (having opened some possibilities up for them through the game).
    • P - PRACTICAL workshop to introduce new model/way of working.

  4. Group-based activity by preferred sense/style

    • Split the group up using sense/style options (SAVI Model):

      • Somatic: learning by moving and doing

        • Activity: creating a TV advert

      • Auditory: learning by talking and hearing

        • Activity: radio show/poem/song

      • Visual: learning by observing and picturing

        • Activity: visual presentation

      • Intellectual: learning by problem-solving

        • Activity: quiz/word search/puzzles

    • Provide the learners with the options of the styles and allocate each corner of the room to each style. Now, ask the learner to stand in their preferred corner/style. Provide each group with the same handout/factsheet on the new topic, and ask them to research and prepare a teach-back session in the form of their chosen style. Give the learners 30 minutes to do this, and then present back with feedback and learning points.

  5. Make use of a pre-learning activity

    • Consider how you are warming up the learners before the event – how have they been on-boarded? What tasks have they been asked to complete?
    • Provide learners with a pre-learning pack or email that gives them a task to complete in relation to the new topic, such as:

      • Bringing an object with them that represents why this topic is important.
      • Conducting a Q&A style interview with managers and reporting back.
      • Researching and presenting a particular area, perhaps asking learners to research in the press and bring some articles with them to the training course.

  6. Video message

    • The video message/golden envelope/5-day challenge. For this, you could pre-write or pre-record a series of messages that can be shared at different times throughout the course, or before or after. These would be different activities for the learners to implement/try, and then report back on their findings.

  7. Problem, Solution, Model (PSM) freestyle

    • P -Problem - delegates bring along their problems and challenges.
    • S - Solution - group discussions and activities about potential solutions.
    • M - Model - apply the most appropriate model/tool ‘in the moment’ that the trainer thinks will help (requires really skilled facilitation but is a powerful group coaching tool).

Thank you to: Andy West, Karen Turner, Steve Boronski, Dennis Sheehan, Henrique de Campos, Gavin Scott, Matt Hickman-Reed, Mark Doyle and Zak Khan for their help and inspiration.