How Well Do We Learn From Experiential Or Inquiry Learning Approaches?

Do workers learn best from experiences such as case studies, simulations, or scenarios? Or do they learn best from presentation of content with practice activities? What is the best way to teach people to handle workplace hazardous materials incidents, for instruction? This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Learning Objectives Vs Learning Activities: What’s The Difference?

Learning objectives and learning activities are two crucial pieces of ammunition in the eLearning provider’s arsenal. They have a role in making lessons engaging and fruitful. Here, we explore the binary relationship of learning objectives vs learning activities by discussing the difference and understanding the importance of both.


Emploring The Learning Objectives Vs Learning Activities Dichotomy 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Positive learning outcomes are the desired goal for any learning program. However, in order to ensure that this happens, taking a structured approach to designing learning plans becomes essential. Learning objectives and learning activities are two crucial pieces of ammunition in the eLearning provider’s arsenal. They have a role in making lessons engaging and fruitful. Learning objectives and learning activities might seem like two sides of the same coin that ultimately have the same objective, that to enable better learning, but they are also vastly different. In this article, we will discuss the learning objectives vs learning activities premise, as well as understand the importance of both.

The What And Why Of “Learning Objectives”

Having clear learning objectives is the first and perhaps “the” most important tenet for designing a great eLearning course. Learning objectives describe the goal of the learning program and define what competencies the learners have to achieve after completing the program. Only when you have clear learning objectives can you build a structured eLearning module and design learning activities that make learning an engaging and interesting proposition.

At the same time, it should be mentioned that learning objectives and learning goals are not the same things. Unlike learning goals which define what the learners should be able to do at the end of the learning module, learning objectives are a great deal more specific, defined, and measurable. The objectives will define in great specificity the individual elements that the learners will have to master on course completion. To put it simply, the “goal” is the destination, while the “objective” is like the road that takes you there.

In order to define learning objectives, it is essential to have a clear idea about the learning audience and their cognitive skills. However, when defining learning objectives you do not need to include information regarding the audience base or the strategy used to develop these objectives. What, however, is important is to employ a framework such as Bloom’s Taxonomy to understand the order in which your target audience will process the information. It then becomes easier to divide the objectives into subcategories when needed, to successfully quantify them to make it measurable and to make learning less overwhelming for the learners.

Having clearly defined learning objectives helps in better assessments and evaluations and ultimately in better learning outcomes. In order to make the learning objectives successful it is essential that these objectives are supplemented with the right tools. This brings us to the second part of this article – learning activities.

The What And Why Of “Learning Activities”

Learning activities are the resources that help in achieving the learning objectives of an eLearning program. It is only when a learning program is engaging and immersive that it will promote better learning. Learning activities motivate a learner to participate more actively in a learning program. There is a vast number of ways in which learning activities are being incorporated in the eLearning program. Engaging learning activities can turn dull and cognitively heavy learning modules into interesting and meaningful learning experiences.

In order to be effective, learning activities have to account for the experience level of the learners and identify the goals that you want to achieve with the activity. You also need to determine the optimal amount of time that you would want to spend on each particular activity to achieve the desired goals. Using storytelling, gamification, virtual learning, augmented reality, etc. to create learning activities can promote better learning. These tools can be used for creating learning activities that can be employed to reduce the cognitive load of the learners and promote better learning. However, when it comes to designing learning activities, you need to remember that much like everything else, learning activities also have to have the right context. For example, developing a game for compliance training would perhaps be less effective when compared to using an interactive infographic or quiz as the latter would be contextually more relevant.

Using learning activities to create branching scenarios, comparative case studies, creating group collaborations via the social network, feature rich eLearning games, creating personal learning paths, etc. are just some of thelearning activities that help in achieving lesson goals. Identifying what media and technology you want to use to create an effective learning activity also becomes important contributors to its effectiveness

Using technologies such as big data can now be immensely helpful when creating learning activities. Data helps you design more personalized learning material, identify loopholes in previously created learning activities, assess which kind of activity is right for a particular module and come up with alternate activities when the effectiveness of the same is in question.

In order to use learning activities appropriately and impressively, it, therefore, becomes imperative to align these with the learning objectives. To put it quite simply, learning objectives are the guide to draw up learning activities which assist in achieving the goal for the particular lesson which collectively lead to better student engagement and learning.

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5 Tips To Use The Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions In eLearning

How To Use Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions In eLearning

Robert Plutchik, a noted professor and psychologist, developed the Wheel of Emotions in the 1980’s. At the time, Plutchik wanted to provide a visual representation of the psychoevolutionary theory. However, since its inception the wheel has been used by writers, therapists, and educators alike to understand the delicate balance of human emotions.

The Wheel of Emotions looks much like a traditional color wheel, and features 8 primary emotions that grow in intensity as you move into the center of the diagram. For example, joy falls in between serenity, which is a lighter color found on the outer ring of the wheel, and ecstasy, which is darker and at the center of the diagram. eLearning professionals can use this wheel to develop powerful and engaging eLearning courses by connecting with their learners at an emotional level.

Plutchik’s Polar Opposites

According to Plutchik, humans experience eight different primary emotions, which can be divided into 4 distinct pairs of polar opposites; joy-sadness, anticipation-surprise, fear-anger, and disgust-trust.

Plutchik also believed that every emotion we experience is a combination of the 8 primary emotions. For example, a blend of sadness and disgust may result in remorse, while joy and trust can produce love.

5 Tips To Use Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions In eLearning

  1. Know the right recipe for blending emotions.
    In order to bring out certain emotions in your learners, it’s important to know how to properly mix them together. Emotions can be hard to classify, and even harder to stir in our audience. However, if you are aware of the basic ingredients you need to create each emotion, you can trigger just the right feeling. If you want to inspire and motivate your learners, for example, you would want to utilize optimism. By looking at Plutchik’s wheel, we can gather that anticipation and joy are the key ingredients of optimism. Let your learners know the benefits of learning the information and allow them to track their progress to take care of the “anticipation” element. Add in a touch of “joy” by including a lighthearted story or a cheerful narrator, and you’ve whipped up a batch of optimism.
  2. Bring a smile to their faces.
    It’s a known fact that joyful and happy eLearning experiences boost knowledge retention and recall. This is primarily because the mind ties the information to a favorable experience, which makes it easier to remember in the real world. While our brains may hold onto sad memories, they recall happy experiences with much greater detail. You can bring a smile to their faces by using motivational wording, uplifting colors, and background music that soothes and calms. Make it entertaining and fun so that they never forget the eLearning course, or the information they learned from it.
  3. Create interest and intrigue by telling a story.
    Gain their trust and make them feel connected to the eLearning experience by telling them an emotionally engaging story. Include characters who exhibit specific emotions featured in the Plutchik’s wheel to trigger the right combination. For example, a character who exhibits anger can provide a stark contrast to a serene or affectionate protagonist. Make them empathize with the characters so that they feel like they are part of the story, but also remember to tie it all into the primary learning objectives of the eLearning course.
  4. Give them a pleasant surprise.
    If you blend fear with surprise you get awe, and awe leads to amazing eLearning experiences. Use an attention grabbing graphic or pose an unexpected question that gets their mental gears turning. Catch them off guard by adding something that may seem out of place, but eventually ties into the subject matter. Riddles are also a great addition to eLearning courses if you are trying to achieve the perfect blend of apprehension and distraction, which also results in awe. There is a caveat to this particular tip, however. You need to be sure that your “wow” element doesn’t end up offending members of your audience. Likewise, it shouldn’t take them too far off course from the main ideas of the online lesson. In other words, don’t include an element of surprise just for the shock value.
  5. Use images to trigger an emotional response.
    We are visual creatures. While the written word may stir the soul and pull the heart strings, visuals make us feel even more emotionally connected to the eLearning experience. Use images that are familiar and relatable for your audience. There are a variety of royalty free stock photo sites online where you can download high quality images. However, you should also try to incorporate images that will instantly click with your learners, such as pictures of their sales floor or co-workers. If that’s not an option, then opt for images that visually represent the emotion you are trying to achieve. For instance, a photo of a woman with her child might make them feel joy, that is acceptance combined with serenity, while a picture of a frustrated customer will result in feelings of contempt, that may be translated to annoyance mixed with boredom.

The Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions may have been introduced to the world decades ago, but it remains an invaluable tool for eLearning professionals today. Use this guide to capture emotions, blend them to perfection, and make your eLearning course memorable for every member of your audience.

Interested in learning how emotional intelligence can impact online learning? Read this article The Impact Of Emotional Intelligence In eLearning to discover how to create an emotional connection and build engagement in your eLearning courses.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Let’s Become Collectors Of Learning Experiences

Collecting Learning Experiences

There are many learning moments which are not memorable at all. We read books, participate in lectures or seminars, talk with other people, take eLearning courses, etc. - and after shorter or longer period of time we remember literally nothing. Such a learning moment could be treated as a pure waste of time - has a very weak power to influence our lives. We can change this, however, by becoming collectors of learning experiences, or by making others to play such a role. I am such a collector and here is a story of building such an attitude (yes - this is rather an attitude than ability or skill).

I like to read - always liked it. My home is full of books. I have been reading since I remember and I have read hundreds of books. When I was a child I read many adventure books - so I had a chance to read about conquering distant places, exploring deep seas, climbing the highest mountains. I had been building in my mind ideas of events described in all of these books. In those days I hadn't got a chance to see these places even on the picture as there was no Internet and I had been living behind the Iron Curtain with no possibility to reach such information. So - I used maps to make my imagination work better; to catch context, build relations between places I read about. Now, after all of these years, when Poland is a free country; when we are in Schengen Treaty and literally have no borders around our country I catch up all neglected experiences. So, now I know:

  • how Africa smells,
  • how big is Grand Canyon,
  • how crowded are streets on Tokio,
  • how big was a T-Rex,
  • how hard is to run at at the height of 2500 meters,
  • how is to feel nitrox narcosis at the depth of 40 meters while diving,
  • how huge is sequoia tree,
  • how tight was the cockpit of the the first spaceship,
  • ...

I have read about all of these. But experiencing them made a HUGE difference in understanding and remembering it in multisensory level.

How To Build Experiences?

I know that it is impossible to experience everything in the world. No one has time nor money to do it. But we can change our approach to consuming information from passive, to active. We can also try to consume the World with all possible senses instead of limiting it to reading or watching.

Here are some tips on how to do it based on my experiences.

  1. Google Maps.
    When I plan a trip (or even I had a dream of traveling to some distant place of the World) I use Google Map. I create itinerary, read about places I plan to visit. I find relations between them, check distances, look at pictures. I also try to find the best possibilities to experience these places. All of these activities build quite extensive understanding of the certain place. Also build excitement which influences my readiness and motivation to remember information.
  2. Second Screen.
    When I watch a movie sometimes I check things on my iPad. I check for facts, historical contexts, I look for information about places of action. I also search for additional pictures of places which I find interesting, sometimes take a look at Google Maps to see where the action takes place. All of these activities bring engagement and let me not only remember but also understand the World.
  3. Going to museums.
    In every single museum you can learn many things. I love places when you can not only see but play with them. That is why, with all respect, I prefer Smithsonian (where you can experience many kinesthetic activities) than Louvre (where you are mostly playing a role of a passive viewer).
  4. Traveling.
    Well - I know that this is the most expensive tip. But, I think, the most powerful one. You can read as many books as possible about the Egyptian Pyramids and you will NEVER understand their monumentality not being there. There are no other ways than traveling to understand culture of the certain country or nation. And without understanding it - reading books or watching movies about such a culture or country will not let you absorb knowledge about it.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes I compare the learning process with puzzles scattered around the table. Every learning moment lets us fit another puzzle to the right place. I love to hear a "click" sound in my mind when it happens. Building context by experiencing things accelerates this process - I can much easier find the right place for the next piece. And, as while playing with puzzles the more pieces are placed in the right place the easier it is to fit another one.

I encourage not only to build context in such a way, but also to design learning interventions in a way which will push learners towards this direction. Let them not only participate in a lecture, but also touch, feel and do things. Force them not only to take page-turning eLearning courses but also bring them real experience, let them face a challenge, and draw them away from the computer in order to engage them.

Let them also hear that magic "click".

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Emotional Learning: Why Companies Need To Recognize The Importance Of Emotion In Their Chosen Training Methods

The Importance Of Emotional Learning In Corporate Training

Building on an early career in fast-moving retail operational management, I first became passionate about unlocking the potential in people and all things related to learning and development in the late 1980’s. I firmly believe that to be truly effective and sustainable, the learning environment must be creative, focused, fun and engaging, and above all, practical.

Many business management theories and models may offer us great insights, however the vital tipping point for everyone is “How can I use it?” or “How does this solve that problem?”. And without the answers, little of any real value will be taken away from pretty much any training session.

Since forming Creativedge Training in 2001, I have continued to uphold my belief in making learning more accessible, keep things simple (less is so often more) and offer people flexibility and choice in how they learn and the environments in which they learn. It was out of the “less is more; take the best, leave the rest” principle that the Creativedge 90 Minute “Bite-Sized” Training method was first created over 14 years ago. Why did I choose this particular approach to delivering training? I was compelled by it because the intensive, focused sessions take full advantage of our optimum period of concentration, allowing information to not only be rapidly absorbed, but more importantly, to stick! How so? Let me explain.

Brain-based reports by the Neuro Leadership Institute give a scientific, quantifiable perspective on how people think, develop, and perform when they learn. They also give tremendous scientific insight on the value played by emotions when we learn, and as such how emotions should be taken into account in the learning environment. And by a learning “environment” I mean the method(s) used to deliver learning, be that classroom style or virtual training, both of which I shall refer to below.

Part Played By Emotion

The compelling 2014 NeuroLeadership report, which updates the 2010 AGES model report, hones in on the emotional aspect of the learning experience and how moderate levels of positive emotional arousal can actually enhance memory retention and enable greater social collaboration, which in turn aids learning. The 2014 report refers to “the executive flown in for the 9-5 learning event” who may feel frustration and irritation at being away from emails, the office etc., and ultimately feels pulled in so many directions. This type of emotion can distract from the positive impact of learning. The Creativedge bite-size classroom sessions were designed more than 14 years ago to accommodate these exact same circumstances. As such, they were specifically designed to be interactive, fast-moving, and engaging in order that participants would retain and immediately apply all information learned during the session afterwards and in the future. A key value of our training method is the ability to deliver a high impact program in a condensed 90 minute time frame, thereby ensuring people can quickly return to “their day job”.

One of the other interesting points highlighted in the same article is the part played by “spacing”, i.e. having space between learning and review sessions. Our classroom sessions allow and encourage participants to revisit our programs in the future and at their leisure.

The exact same principles also apply to a successful virtual training environment.

In order for virtual training to work successfully, it is key for participants to have meaningful, interactive, fast-moving sessions that also provide a chance to network and engage with other participants. When various multimedia elements like video and audio clips, infographics and animations, mini-games, fun and relevant polling questions are all added into the mix, then participants are able to enjoy an engaging and exciting learning environment that in so doing also helps to extend  their  capacity to improve performance and thinking. This can be evidenced when we evaluate our clients after the work we do with them.

With many years’ experience working with many different companies, I have seen at first hand people’s emotional responses to what they are learning. When emotional learning is ignored, that is if the information they perceive in the learning environment fails to elicit response, it will fail to be perceived as meaningful and will therefore have little chance of being selected into long-term memory banks and be recalled and used in the future.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The Impact Of Emotional Intelligence In eLearning

Emotional Intelligence In eLearning

Emotional connectivity as a key aspect of effective eLearning design and development is not a new idea. Human brain is not just a cognitive information processing mechanism, but a complicated system where affective and cognitive functions are inseparably integrated. In other words, addressing your learners’ emotions can be particularly valuable since an emotionally safe eLearning environment boosts self-confidence and motivation, encourages taking risks, and enhances creative expression, all being critical factors of an effective eLearning experience.

Taking a step forward, it has been proven that learning effectiveness can be influenced not only by generally addressing learners’ emotions, but also by focusing on improving the components of learners’ emotional intelligence. To understand what emotional intelligence is, we will use Daniel Goleman’s definition, which describes emotional intelligence as the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. Goleman has conducted multiple research studies demonstrating that “social and emotional skills are intimately linked with cognitive development, as in an ideal learning environment students are focused, fully attentive, motivated, engaged, and enjoy their work. (…) Similarly, caring relationships with teachers and other students increase students’ desire to learn, and their confidence in their abilities to try harder”.

Sure, this statement makes perfect sense in an educational environment; but can emotional intelligence affect eLearning in such a positive way? Will your learners benefit from boosting their emotional and social skills? In this article I will reveal how the emotional intelligence of your learners impacts eLearning and I will show you how to use it in your eLearning course design and development.

How Emotional Intelligence Affects eLearning

In order to explore the impact of emotional intelligence in eLearning, or in other words in order to explore how emotional facilitation of thinking improves your audience’s engagement and performance, you need to have in mind the five components of emotional intelligence, three of which concern personal competence and two of which correspond to social competence.

  1. Self-awareness.
    Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and drives, and use them to make decisions. The stronger your learners’ ability to be emotionally aware throughout the eLearning experience is, the better sense of control over their inner selves they gain, therefore the greater becomes their self-confidence to achieve their learning objectives. Help your learners identify what they are thinking and feeling when making decisions during the eLearning course by offering them control over their eLearning experience, following a learner-centered approach. This way you will encourage them to be more creative and flexible in problem solving, as well as more efficient in decision making. Trigger their interest and curiosity by integrating aesthetically appealing material and entertaining multimedia elements into your eLearning course, and encourage them to apply what they are learning by integrating interactive eLearning activities.
  2. Self-regulation.
    Regulating our emotions means monitoring our positive and negative feelings; hence handling difficulties without giving up. This component of emotional intelligence is particularly critical for eLearning, as learners often feel frustration, boredom, and anxiety during difficult, dull, or disengaging eLearning assignments. As an eLearning professional you should help your audience control their negative emotions, as well as adapt themselves to changing circumstances. In order to do this, always analyze your audience and set clear and relevant to them eLearning objectives and goals, to eliminate frustration. Help them monitor their progress towards achievement by integrating several assessments throughout the eLearning course, offer regular feedback, and consider creating eLearning materials that boost your learners’ self-management skills, such are interactive branching scenarios.
  3. Self-motivation.
    Self-motivation is the ability that we have to channel our motivation and drive to achievement. In eLearning, a strong sense of self-motivation on your learners’ behalf means that they are able to generate positive feelings like enthusiasm, zeal, and persistence, in order to learn. It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? To enhance your audience’s self-motivation skills, you need to offer them eLearning material that is meaningful to them. Only meaningful eLearning content has the potential to discourage apathy and boredom. Motivate your learners by offering them engaging eLearning courses that connect to their personal and professional lives, for instance by using scenarios that offer real world benefits and boost their optimism by allowing them to try again when they fail and learn from their mistakes. Furthermore, offer them concrete feedback throughout the eLearning course to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses more effectively.
  4. Social Awareness.
    As regards the social competence of your learners, social awareness is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others within social situations. An alternative word for social awareness is “empathy”; that is the ability to consider and be sensitive to other people’s feelings when making a decision. This component of emotional intelligence is particularly critical in online training course design, as in complex corporate environments learners need exceptional decision-making skills in order to perform effectively in areas like leadership, sales, or customer service. To enhance social awareness in your employees, consider integrating problem-solving and conflict resolution interactions into your online training course, and therefore providing your audience with opportunities to take responsibility of their actions while understanding different perspectives. Use branching scenarios that offer your employees the chance to explore how their choices lead to real life consequences, and follow a persuasive learning approach, that builds emotional connections among your audience.
  5. Social skills / Relationships management.
    Finally, social skills or relationships management is the ability to relate to other people in a supportive way, by managing conflict. Handling social relationships is another critical component of emotional intelligence in eLearning, for obvious reasons. When learners are able to communicate and cooperate well with each other, they become more effective and produce better results. To boost their social skills, integrate social learning in your eLearning course development, in order to encourage your audience to foster strong relationships with their peers inside and outside of the virtual classroom. Offer them opportunities to share responsibilities during the eLearning course through the use of team player eLearning games, and help them build bonds, collaborate with each other, and manage conflict during challenging eLearning assignments and group exercises. This way, you will create the ideal environment for productive relationships, and the development of trust, motivation, and commitment to results.

Now that you know how emotional intelligence affects eLearning how to use the emotional intelligence of your learners in eLearning, you may be interested in learning how you create eLearning experiences that stick. Read the article 7 Tips To Create eLearning Experiences That Stick where I share some invaluable tips that can help you create eLearning experiences that are memorable, no matter what your learning objectives might be or what your audience needs to take away from the eLearning course.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Tips To Create eLearning Experiences That Stick

How To Create eLearning Experiences That Stick

Each one of us has participated in an eLearning course, webinar, or online training event that we forgot as soon as we logged off. Every piece of information simply slipped out of our minds, like a sieve, through no fault of our own, while other eLearning courses stuck with us long after completion. This particular eLearning experience just wasn’t memorable enough to leave its mark. As eLearning professionals, it’s our responsibility to avoid this at all costs. We have to design eLearning experiences that stick, regardless of the subject matter or the background of our learners. In this article, I’ll share tips and tricks that you can use to create eLearning experiences that your learners aren’t soon to forget.

  1. Application of knowledge.
    If you want your learners to truly remember what they have learned, they must actually apply the knowledge they are acquiring throughout the eLearning course. Real world scenarios, simulations, and games are all learning activities that give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned and tie the subject matter to real life benefits and situations. Application of knowledge also involves repetition, which is known to boost memory.
  2. Link new concepts to previously acquired knowledge.
    As human beings, we have a natural instinct to relate new concepts to ideas that we have already learned and stored in our brains. For example, if we are learning a new task, we automatically search our memory banks to find skills or similar tasks that might help us to master the new one. As such, linking new concepts to previously acquired knowledge can make your eLearning course more memorable. Integrate real world examples or analogies that help your learners connect one idea or concept to another, so that they are more likely to commit it to their long term memory.
  3. Create emotionally compelling stories.
    Stories have a way of stirring our emotions and helping us to connect. When we read a story that is emotionally compelling, we tend to remember the characters and concepts involved long after the fact. We relate to the situation or challenges and begin to reflect upon our own feelings or struggles. This automatically makes the subject matter an eLearning experience that sticks to our brain, because we are connecting with it on a profound level. It has power now because it is not only tied to our minds but also to our hearts. When creating such stories, however, it’s important to keep in mind the goals and objectives of the eLearning courseAlways ensure that the plot and characters tie into the core ideology of the lesson, or else it won’t be of any value to your learners.
  4. Encourage reflection after each module.
    Upon completion of each lesson or module, encourage your learners to reflect and review the concepts and ideas just presented. This will give them the opportunity to fully absorb all of the key takeaways before moving onto the next lesson. As a result, they will commit it to their memory and they will able to recall the information easier at a later time, when they really need it, rather than moving onto the next lesson before they’ve had a chance to comprehend previous concepts.
  5. Avoid cognitive overload by keeping it clear and concise.
    Keep your text blocks concise by breaking lengthy paragraphs into bullet points, divide information into bite-sized lessons or modules, and highlight key pieces of information to avoid cognitive overload. If there is a concept that may be more complicated, try to use charts or graphics to illustrate the steps or ideas involved. Ultimately, all of your content should be clear, concise, and geared toward achieving eLearning objectives. Remember that extraneous information and visual imagery are just distractions for your learners.
  6. Integrate collaboration activities into your eLearning course design.
    Social learning gives your learners the power to interact with their peers and engage in an interactive and immersive learning process. When they collaborate with their peers to complete an assignment or reach out to them through social media sites, they are more likely to remember the eLearning experience. They can also benefit from the previous experience and knowledge of their peers and get the additional support they need to expand their comprehension of a topic or idea.
  7. Learning is a marathon, not a race.
    It’s true. Learners typically don’t have an unlimited amount of time to participate in an eLearning course or online training event. They may have other commitments that prevent them from participating on a weekly basis, for example. However, it’s important to remember that learning is not something that should be rushed. It is a marathon, not a race, especially if you want the learning to stick. It’s best to break modules down into digestible chunks and spread them out over time, rather than forcing an abundance of information upon your learners all at once. Give them a chance to acquire and absorb the knowledge and skills before moving onto the next module, so that they can save it in their memory banks for later use.

Use these tips to develop eLearning experiences that stick, giving your learners the opportunity to put their knowledge to use outside of the virtual learning environment and achieve the real world benefits that your eLearning course can offer.

One of the most effective ways to make your eLearning course more memorable is by integrating pervasive eLearning experiences into your eLearning course design. The article 6 Tips To Create The Perfect Pervasive eLearning Experience highlights how you can offer your learners the benefits associated with pervasive learning in a structured eLearning environment.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Can Experiential Learning Be Applied To eLearning? Part 2

In the first article, Can Experiential Learning Be Applied To eLearning?, we defined the term Experiential Learning and talked about the critical elements of Experiential Learning. We also covered some of the reasons why experiential learning is important.

The 2 Schools of Experiential Learning

Kolb and Experiential Learning

According to the psychologist David Kolb, Experiential Learning is "...a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience." This was a radical switch from previously held beliefs of cognitive theorists (emphasis on mental processes) and behavioral theorists (largely ignoring subjective experiences in learning).

Kolb believed that learning was a more holistic experience than simply a function of the cognitive or behavioral elements. In addition to these two, Kolb's theory recognizes that other factors, including emotions and environmental conditions, greatly influence learning outcomes.

Kolb's theory of Experiential Learning is based on four factors: Concrete Experience, Abstract Conceptualization, Reflective Observations and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb, these 4 elements form a cycle or process through which learners are able to observe, understand, grasp, practice (experiment) and learn.

Carl Rogers and Experiential Learning

Psychologist Carl Rogers advocated his own theory of Experiential Learning, which is grounded in several core principles:

  1. Learning is accelerated when the student is interested in the subject matter
  2. Where the subject matter is perceived as threatening to the learner (e.g., the need to change his/her behavior or attitude about strongly held perceptions), learning is accelerated if external (threatening) factors are eliminated or reduced
  3. Learning that has been self-initiated by the learner will prove to be more effective than learning that's forced, without choice of the learner)

According to Rogers, there are two distinct types of learning: Significant (Experiential) and Meaningless (Cognitive). Rogers opined that true learning only takes place when there is confrontation between personal, social or practical challenges and the learner and/or the subject matter being studied.

How Experiential Learning Works?

At its very basic level, Experiential Learning seeks to foster learning as a by-product of learners experiences. Students can read all the books about venturing into space, but it is only an Astronaut who has actually travelled into space and really knows what space travel is all about. You do things. You fail at them. You understand why you failed. Then, you experiment again...and succeed!

Experiential Learning works by designing curriculum seeking to:

  • Mimic (as closely as possible) real-world experiences
  • Structure and monitor those experiences
  • Ensure that there is planned and deliberate "deviation" from the base curriculum
  • Provide ample opportunity for hands-on doing, experimenting and simulation

Using all of these elements produces a powerful learning experience that cannot be replicated by rote or other styles of learning.

How Experiential Learning Can Be Applied To eLearning

So, is there any "real life" application to Experiential Learning, and can we apply eLearning principles to facilitate it? The answer is a definite "YES" to both questions. Given everything discussed above about Experiential Learning, here are two situations where eLearning and Experiential Learning can be combined:

  • Situation#1
    In days of yore, future physicians and surgeons relied on cadavers to hone their skills, and practiced under strict supervision of senior surgeons/tutors in a hospital or clinic. Today, we can design comprehensive eLearning programs to simulate all the skills and knowledge needed by medical practitioners in an operating room. Medical "complications" can be introduced into the setting, and students can be forced to interact with their environment, and think creatively to resolve the challenges posed.
  • Situation#2:
    Learning complex concepts like Trigonometry, Algebra or Calculus is not very easy without extensive help, especially for adult learners. ELearning can change all that! By creating interactive learning content, and offering skills tests, online assignments and quizzes, self-assessment modules, learners can experiment with multiple solutions while they understand the underlying principles of the subject.

In both of these situations, eLearning and Experiential Learning are a perfect fit.

ELearning does not require learners to be co-located with tutors. Learning can be performed at the student's pace. Students learn by doing, failing, observing (videos, graphics, audio etc.) and then practicing. A varying degree of variability and uncertainty can be introduced in course content. Students can pace their learning based on the skills they learned previously (using a modular approach). Learning happens in a structured manner, yet "uncertainty" is part of that structure. There is a comprehensive mechanism of monitoring, tracking and feedback built using eLearning techniques.

If you want to learn more about Instructional Design and eLearning, please check out the Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Can Experiential Learning Be Applied To eLearning?

What Is Experiential Learning?

Way back in 350 BCE, a Greek philosopher, thinker, mathematician, astrologer, historian and analyst, wrote: "...for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." Even prior to that, the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, wrote:

I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do, and I understand!

Based on that, one might say that Confucius and Aristotle actually planted the seeds of Experiential Learning as it is formally called today.

Until those fundamental principles of Experiential Learning were articulated and understood, learning environments were confined to didactic and rote styles, where learners had more of a passive role to play in their education.

Perhaps a more "modern" definition of what Experiential Learning is all about comes from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The AACSB Task Force, in their 1989 report, defined Experiential Learning as a:

"...curriculum-related endeavor which is interactive (other than between teacher and pupil) and is characterized by variability and uncertainty"

5 Critical Εlements of Experiential Learning

If we carefully analyze the above definition, we can see there are several key elements that a curriculum must embrace for it to meet the criteria of being called "experiential":

  1. Participative.
    Unlike one-way rote or didactic learning, Experiential Learning is all about participation and two-way learning experiences, where students and other stakeholders actively engage in learning experiences.
  2. Interactive.
    While most learning styles (even rote and didactic, one may argue) require interaction between teachers and students, Experiential Learning stresses other interactions as well - student-student, student-environment and student-outsiders (clients, civic leaders, community members etc.). In other words, Experiential Learning experiences take learners beyond the classroom, and ventures out into the real world.
  3. Multi-dimensional.
    Not only does Experiential Learning tap the behavioral dimensions of learners, but also their affective and cognitive dimensions.
  4. Variability and Uncertainty.
    While "rote based" students are unprepared to deal with anything other than the prescribed syllabus, Experiential Learning curriculum is deliberately structured to add uncertainty and variability into the learning environment. Under the teacher’s guidance, learners are taught to deal with situations that they are unfamiliar with.
  5. Feedback.
    Experiential Learning relies heavily on feedback loops, both from students about their experiences, and from teachers about their views of the process.

Why experiential learning is important

The world today is much more complex and integrated than that which produced legendary minds like Confucius and Aristotle. The pace at which environments and knowledge change is far greater than what we have witnessed before in history. The need for "outside the box" thinking, and thinking "on ones feet" is even more important today than it was historically.

The only way that learners (either in kindergarten, school, college or the workforce) can survive and thrive in a dynamic and constantly evolving environment, is by learning to quickly adapt to change. It is only through Experiential Learning characteristics that, when weaved into learning curricula, students will be better prepared to face the complexities of the modern world.

If you want to learn more about Instructional Design and eLearning, please check out the Instructional Design for ELearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Can you do experiential learning online? Assessing design models for experiential learning

Experiential Learning (Erfahrungsbasiertes Lernen) ist das Ziel, das hinter einer Reihe von verschiedenen didaktischen Modellen steht. Problem-based learning, case-based learning, project-based learning, inquiry-based learning. Lernprozesse in möglichst realen Umgebungen, mit möglichst realen Aufgabenstellungen. Tony Bates stellt kurz die verschiedenen Modelle und ihre Spielregeln vor. Die Ähnlichkeiten sind groß. Alle “zerlegen” den Lernprozess in einzelne Phasen, z.B. der Analyse, der Praxis und der Reflektion. Die Unterschiede liegen u.a. in den Schwerpunkten und der Rolle der Lehrenden. Alle Modelle sind, so Tony Bates, offen, was ihre Form der (technischen) Umsetzung betrifft. Eine nützliche Aufstellung!

“On balance then, I would support the use of experiential learning for developing the knowledge and skills needed in a digital age, but as always, it needs to be done well, following best practices associated with the design models.”
Tony Bates, e-learning and distant education resources, 1. Dezember 2014