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What is it?

Gaining knowledge by actively doing something, reflecting upon the experience, allowing these reflections to change your thinking in some way, and then applying this new understanding.

Why is it important?

Experiential learning goes beyond involving students with real-world projects. It uses a cycle of doing something, taking time to observe and reflect, considering how to adjust, trying a new approach, and then reflecting again(Kolb & Kolb, 2017). It is excellent for mentoring, service learning, project-based learning, action learning, adventure education, case studies, simulation, and gaming, and it has been shown to have a positive impact on learning(Burch et al, 2019)(Kolb & Kolb, 2017).

Why does a business professional need to know this?

As a business professional, you may have the opportunity to engage with employees who have experience with experiential learning, giving your business the benefit their knowledge of new theories and practices in this area. You can look forward to these employees bringing fresh ideas and perspectives into your team as well as providing the opportunity for junior staff to develop mentorship skills(Hoessler & Godden, 2021).

It may also be helpful to understand that potential new employees who have completed experiential learning have some practical experience, but more than that they have been encouraged to deeply reflect on and learn from this experience. This structured reflection can be very valuable(Burch et al., 2019).

If you are involved in experiential learning projects, it is important for you to understand enough about the term to position yourself for success. It is critical for experiential learning to be set up in a methodical way that aligns your business goals with student learning objectives and course assessments. Otherwise, you may not see the benefits you were hoping for(Hoessler & Godden, 2021). Additionally, it is important for you to understand the role you will play in the experiential learning process(Hoessler & Godden, 2021)(Kolb & Kolb, 2017).

References

  • (Burch 2019) A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Experiential Learning and Learning Outcomes: Burch, Gerald F., Robert Giambatista, John H. Batchelor, Jana J. Burch, J. Duane Hoover, and Nathan A. Heller. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 17, no. 3 (July 2019):239–273. Subscription or paid download required. This journal article analyzes studies that compared experiential learning activities to traditional learning environments and concludes that learning outcomes are greater when experiential pedagogies are used.
  • (Hoessler & Godden 2021) Outcome-Based Experiential Learning: Hoessler, Caroline, and Lorraine Godden. (2021). Higher Education and Beyond. ISBN: 978-1777626020. This book is an excellent practical guide for anyone involved in setting-up experiential learning. It provides straightforward guidance relating to a process that can be used to structure the experiential learning as well as identifying specific things that stakeholders should discuss.
  • (Kolb & Kolb 2017)  Experiential Learning Theory as a Guide for Experiential Educators in Higher Education: Kolb, Alice Y., and Kolb, David A. Experiential Learning Theory as a Guide for Experiential Educators in Higher Education 1 no. 1, Article 7. (2017):7–44. Downloadable in PDF format.

About Lorraine Weaver

Photo of Lorraine Weaver

Lorraine Weaver is currently working as an instructional designer at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). Prior to TRU, she completed 20 years of work in the Canadian Forces as an Aerospace Engineering Officer. Her work included engineering, personnel management, mentoring, and training and development. She has completed degrees in BSc (math), MSc (human factors), a graduate diploma in technology-enhanced learning and design, and an MEd.

Term: Experiential Learning

Email: lweaver2008@gmail.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/lorraine-weaver-812745150

What is it?

The name given to theories of learning grounded in the notion that meaning is imposed on the world rather than extant in it. Constructivists hold that meaning is constructed in our minds as we interact with the physical, social, and mental worlds we inhabit and that we make sense of our experiences by building and adjusting the internal mental structures that collect and organize our perceptions of, and reflections on, reality.

Why is it important?

Constructivism is important because it points to the types of activities that support robust learning, namely activities that are learner-centered, social, and active and which incorporate authentic contexts.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

A business professional should know what constructivism means because it is the learning theory most commonly accepted by educators worldwide. It not only describes how we believe people learn, it suggests pedagogical strategies to support learning.

Although there are a variety of constructivist theories—​cognitive constructivism, constructionism, social constructivism, situated learning, distributed cognition—​such theories basically represent different points of view on shared assumptions about the nature of learning and the construction of knowledge.

Constructivism refers to a set of psychological theories that share common assumptions about learning and which collectively represent the most widely accepted beliefs about how people learn. According to constructivists, all learning involves mental construction, no matter how one is taught.

All learning occurs in our minds as we create and adjust internal mental structures to accommodate our ever-growing and ever-changing stores of knowledge. All knowledge is thus unique to the individual, and all learning is an active process, intimately tied to experience and the contexts of experience, no matter how or where that learning takes place.

Although constructivism is neither a pedagogical theory nor a theory of instruction, it does have implications for both. In particular, it suggests that education should focus on learners and learning and not on teachers and teaching.

References

About Karen Swan

Photo of Karen Swan

Karen Swan, who passed away in September 2021, was the Stukel Professor of Educational Research at the University of Illinois Springfield. For more than 20 years, she was a leading teacher and researcher in the field of online learning. She received the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Outstanding Individual Achievement award, the National University Technology Network (NUTN) Distinguished Service Award, and the Burks Oakley Distinguished Online Teaching Award for her work in this area. In 2010 she was named an OLC Fellow and is a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Term: Constructivism

What is it?

The process of learning a skill by performing that skill with consistent repetition and feedback. Also referred to as competency-based education.

Why is it important?

People learn by doing. Learning and development specialists often apply the 70-20-10 model, which says that 70% of what people learn is from job-related experience, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal training or education(Training Industry 2014). This suggests that well over half of learning should be based on the learner performing a skill rather than an instructor or peer presenting knowledge about the skill.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

To keep pace with innovation and execute on transformative initiatives, organizations need to make skill development, and any needed re-skilling, a core component of the employee journey. And employees need to continue to master new skills as quickly as possible.

Competency-based learning is a key strategy to help companies meet these challenges. It helps ensure that training is relevant to the work by putting the tasks learners will do on the job into the learning content.

Competency-based learning begins with a needs analysis, which identifies the actual competencies required for mastery on the job. Equipped with information from the needs analysis, subject matter experts, and prospective learners, the learning and development team crafts learning content that challenges learners to perform aspects of the work as part of the curriculum.

Typically, competency-based learning allows individual learners to practice until they reach a designated mastery level before moving forward. Practice or repetition might take the form of simulation practice, scenarios, timed drills, etc. It might also include peer mentoring, coaching, and demonstration of mastery. This repetition and practice is especially helpful when the job tasks carry a risk of harm or injury.

Successful and effective competency-based learning provides learning content that is as close to real-world experiences as possible. This includes methods such as simulations, scenarios, hand-on exercises, timed drills, task observation with feedback, etc. Well-designed competency-based learning helps learners connect what they are learning to what they will be doing on the job.

References

About Dan McCann

Photo of Dan McCann

Dan McCann is an experienced and dynamic leader with a passion for lifetime learning, growth strategy, and innovation. Dan started his career in sales, co-founded FRONTLINE Selling where he successfully managed the business from start-up through 15 consecutive years of profitable growth. In 2018, Dan launched SymTrain, which is transforming the future of work by automating the process of situational learning. SymTrain customers train and assess sales, service, and support employees faster and better than they ever could using manual alternatives.

Term: Competency Based Learning

Email: dan.mccann@symtrain.com

Website: symtrain.com

Twitter: @symtrain

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/symtrain/

Facebook: facebook.com/symtrain/

What is it?

A group of people pursuing mutual interests or endeavors who deepen their knowledge and skills through regular and ongoing interactions.

Why is it important?

Whether formally sanctioned or self-organizing, Communities of Practice (CoPs) provide an opportunity for individuals to share insights and innovate. Long before Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger(Wenger 2002) introduced CoPs and a series of best practices, these types of groups were an organically forming, ever-evolving phenomenon that supported knowledge management. Today, CoPs are hailed as a key strategy to support an organization’s competitive edge in a knowledge-based global economy.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are more than a knowledge management strategy in service of a larger business strategy. They are fluid, living repositories of tacit and explicit domain-specific knowledge. Knowledge can live within, without, or across personal and professional silos. CoPs codify shared knowledge and shape the identities of their members. Understanding what a CoP is and what it is not is critical to designing as well as nurturing this type of resource.

At the core of this term are two words: community and practice.

  • A community does more than bring diverse individuals together based on a set of collective attributes. A community meets the fundamental biological need to feel a sense of belonging.
  • A practice, on the other hand, can be a way of being or doing, a repeated effort to increase proficiency, or a convention that is routinely followed by others. The very nature of practice simultaneously embodies who we are, what we do, and how we do it.

Creating a CoP and assigning it a digital space is only the first step. How knowledge will be shared is equally important. Opportunities for storytelling, coaching, and apprenticeship must also be present.

Knowing about CoPs empowers a business professional to unite participants around a process of continuous improvement while reminding them that they are not alone.

References

About Rhoda Deon

Photo of Rhoda Deon

Rhoda Deon, PhD, is a healer, musician and educator. On a mission to normalize the struggle of being human, her frameworks weave mindfulness practices and data analysis techniques together with games of chance. She has served diverse, global learners in K-12, post-secondary, corporate, and non-traditional settings. Rhoda is a co-designer of Conscious Conversations, a card game that uses levity to help people talk openly about their organization's culture and business practices.

Term: Communities of Practice

Email: rhoda.deon@gmail.com

Website: rhodadeon.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/rhodadeon

What is it?

A learning theory that conceptualizes learning processes in terms of how the mind receives, organizes, codes, transforms, stores, rehearses, and retrieves information. Learning occurs when information is stored in memory in a meaningful and retrievable manner.

Why is it important?

Cognitive processing starts with the working memory, which has a limited capacity and duration in which it can hold information. Through various methods, you can move information from working to long-term memory. Once there, you can hold that information for longer periods of time. But you can only access that information if it has been stored in a way that is easy to retrieve.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Knowing the science can help a business professional structure a better learning experience. How information is presented, the context in which it’s presented, and even the emotions of the individual at the time can all affect learning.

Far too often there is a tendency to dump information on learners in an unstructured way. This can lead to cognitive overload, meaning the brain has no way of focusing on what’s important. If you want your communication to have an impact, take these cues from cognitivism:

  • Keep topics short and focused, delivering only the most relevant information.
  • Set direction for the learners by helping them know what they can expect to get from your training. This acts as an advanced organizer for sorting the new information as they take it in.
  • Deliver information in a relevant context, such as a particular job setting. This helps learners tap into what they already know and add to that.

Making intentional decisions about the context, structure, and order may take extra time but doing so ensures a greater level of understanding and deeper levels of retention.

References

  • (Michela 2018) Cognitivism: Michela, Esther. (2018). In The Student’s Guide to Learning Design and Research. EdTech Books.
  • (Bates 2019) Cognitivism: Bates, A. W. (Tony). (2019). In Teaching in a Digital Age. 2nd ed. British Columbia/Yukon Open Authoring Platform. Open source textbook.
  • (Reynolds 2018) Implications Of Learning Theories On Instructional Design: Reynolds, Jon-Erik. (March 2018). eLearning Industry.

About Ashley Reardon

Photo of Ashley Reardon

Ashley Reardon is the Head of Design & Development for Culture Programs, Legal & Compliance at Meta, where she has been since 2020. For nearly 25 years, her passion has been in using technology to create better, individual-led, learning-by-doing experiences, and over the years, Ashley has been fortunate to develop experience and expertise in everything from eLearning to instructor-led training to performance support to blended solutions. Ashley has a BS in cognitive science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MA in learning sciences from Northwestern University.

Term: Cognitivism

Email: alafrenais@gmail.com

Website: kineo.com/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ashleyreardon

What is it?

The mental effort or workload imposed on a person’s working memory when processing information.

Why is it important?

Understanding cognitive load is crucial for promoting effective learning, decision making, information processing, user experience, productivity, and training outcomes. In the context of learning and development, cognitive load theory provides insights you can apply to instructional design and delivery to improve the learning process.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Business professionals who understand cognitive load are likely to better understand the work of their team members, especially those who design marketing and communication materials, learning content, instructional products, product design, and more.

There are three types of cognitive load you should know:

  • Intrinsic: The inherent complexity of the learning materials or task itself. Some topics or concepts naturally require more mental effort to understand and process. For example, advanced math equations or intricate scientific theories have a higher intrinsic cognitive load.
  • Extraneous: Mental effort that is not directly relevant to learning or task. Poorly designed materials, irrelevant information, or complicated instructions can increase extraneous cognitive load.
  • Germane: The mental effort required to engage in meaningful activities, make connections, and integrate new knowledge with existing knowledge. This effort enables us to develop a deeper understanding and foster long-term learning.

An understanding of cognitive load, especially understanding how to reduce extraneous cognitive load, can help you create more efficient and effective work processes, ultimately contributing to better outcomes for your organization.

And it can help you and your team design more user-friendly products, optimize training programs, improve decision-making, and facilitate collaboration, both within your team and across the organization.

References

About Phylise Banner

Photo of Phylise Banner

Phylise Banner is a learning experience designer with more than 25 years of vision, action, and leadership experience in transformational learning and development approaches. A pioneer in online learning, she is an Adobe Education Leader, Certified Learning Environment Architect (CLEA), Project Management Professional (PMP), STC Fellow, performance storyteller, avid angler, and aviation enthusiast. She is also the proud owner of a 1967 Amphicar.

Term: Cognitive Load

Email: pbanner@gmail.com

Website: phylisebanner.com

Twitter: @phylisebanner

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/phylisebanner

What is it?

The practice of a trusted individual providing guidance and oversight to support the development of another individual.

Why is it important?

Virtually every successful professional, in any field, has benefited from some form of coaching. It’s essential for any organization interested in the development of its people and leaders to understand the role of effective coaching.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Coaches are most commonly associated with sports, providing athletes and teams direction toward the goal of winning a game. Some professional athletes employ multiple coaches, each of whom brings a specific expertise such as skill development, diet and nutrition, strength and conditioning, or sports psychology.

The principle of coaching is tried and true and can fully apply in the workplace to help professionals better perform their responsibilities as well as grow in capacity to expand the impact they make on the business.

To be an effective coach, you need to recognize that people need objective feedback, mentorship, and accountability. It is difficult for humans to see outside themselves to have a clear assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. We all have blind spots that impair our personal development and progress.

An effective coach develops a rapport with an individual to provide a framework of development, choosing specific skills or attributes to improve on within a specific timeframe. Coaching in the workplace can be formal or informal, and the coach can be a professionally trained coach, a skilled and caring manager, or a trusted colleague.

Often, organizations will develop a centralized coaching framework to ensure consistent coaching methods throughout their workforce. Many times, this includes training on how to be an effective coach.

In short, if business professionals are genuinely vested in the success of their people, they will do well to have coaching be a vital part of their learning and development infrastructure and culture(Deloitte 2020).

References

About Vincent Han

Photo of Vincent Han

Vince Han is the founder and CEO of Mobile Coach and a frequent speaker at conferences such as Training Conference, DevLearn, FocusOn, Online Learning, ATDTK and others. He holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Vince is an industry thought-leader for learning and learning technology with an emphasis on artificial intelligence and chatbot technology. Vince has founded several successful technology companies and resides in Utah.

Term: Coaching

Email: vince@mobilecoach.com

Website: mobilecoach.com

Twitter: @vincehan

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/vincehan/

What is it?

A type of learning (also called hybrid learning) that combines appropriate technology with one or more traditional instructional, technical, organizational, or delivery components to present content that supports learners and raises their levels of engagement and achievement.

Why is it important?

Blended learning provides a framework that combines instructional technologies with traditional educational techniques to provide solutions for modern learners working in a business climate that’s increasingly mobile, global, and reliant on collaborative social technologies.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Today, most learning is blended learning. Learning initiatives include some combination of live learning and self-directed learning, supported by resources like infographics, videos, and eLearning. But modern blended learning is more than sequencing different media and activities that happen to be related by topic.

It is about aligning learning objects with the most appropriate instructional strategies, techniques, and technologies while meeting the needs of the organization and modern learners. When designed and implemented effectively, blended learning is powerful. It creates individual resources that support formal, planned learning events, and supports every informal moment of learning need(Gottfredson and Mosher). An added benefit is that resources are no longer shelved or filed after the learning management system (LMS) has indicated completion; instead, they become crucial references and tools that learners can use after the instructional program has ended.

Blended learning supports enhanced outreach to learners while connecting workforces that are globally dispersed, working virtually, and always on the go. Blended learning resources are accessible to learners at the time and place of their convenience, as well as accommodating individuals with sight, hearing, and mobility impairments. Thus, blended learning makes your talent development initiatives more inclusive.

Blended learning also enables more authentic learning, by allowing individuals to learn, recall, and apply what they’ve learned when and where they need the content and perform their work. Blended learning campaigns provide the ability to create personal learning paths, allowing individuals to assess their own needs and make informed decisions about how and what to learn.

Excerpted from Blended Learning(Hofmann, 2018).

References

  • (Hofmann 2018) Blended Learning: Hoffman, Jennifer. (February 2018). Association for Talent Development. ISBN: 978-1-562860981.
  • (Farah 2019) Blended Learning Built on Teacher Expertise: Farah, Kareem. (May 2019). Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation.
  • (Gottfredson and Mosher) The 5 Moments of Need : Gottfredson, Conrad and Bob Mosher. Website with resources describing the training methodology based on five moments of need.

About Jennifer Hofmann

Photo of Jennifer Hofmann

Jennifer Hofmann is a renowned leader in virtual live learning best practices and services. Her company, InSync Training, was recognized by Inc. 500/500 as one of the highest growth professional learning and development companies five times in the last decade and is known within the training industry for its innovative training solutions. InSync perfected virtual live instruction as a methodology decades before the pandemic and continues to dominate that sector through intensive research, specialized instructional design, innovative instructional techniques, and proven content development practices.

Term: Blended Learning

Email: jennifer@insynctraining.com

Website: insynctraining.com/

Twitter: @InSyncJennifer

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jennifer-hofmann-dye/

What is it?

A theory of learning based on the idea that all sources of behavior are external (in the environment), not internal (in the mind, in the head). Also known as Behavioral Learning Theory.

Why is it important?

Behavioral learning theory shows us how to leverage important factors such as repetition, positive reinforcement, and motivation to achieve better results from the learning initiatives we employ. The biggest advantage of a behavioral approach to learning is that it focuses on observable, measurable behaviors, making it useful for modifying behaviors in the real world.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Behaviorists believe that all behaviors are learned through conditioning, (interaction with the environment) and can be described and explained without needing to reference mental events or internal psychological processes.

According to this theory, anyone, regardless of their background, can be trained to act in a particular way given the right conditioning. In short, behavior is a response to environmental stimuli.

Basic assumptions:

  • Behaviorism is primarily concerned with observable behavior, as opposed to internal events like emotions and thinking.
  • Behavior is the result of stimulus-response (i.e., all behavior, no matter how complex, is reduced to a stimulus-response relationship).
  • Behavior is determined by the environment (e.g., conditioning, nurture).

The birth of behaviorism traces back to the work of John B. Watson in the early 1900s(Hauser). Watson believed that objective analysis of the mind was impossible. He was a major proponent of shifting the focus of psychology from the mind to behavior. This approach of observing and influencing behavior by focusing on observable, quantifiable events became known as behaviorism.

Behavioral learning theory helps someone who designs learning programs to apply appropriate instructional strategies to achieve results aligned with the needs of the audience and goals of the organization.

Learning is central to the success of every organization. Every business professional can benefit from understanding and applying principles, such as behaviorism, that make the learning process as efficient and effective as possible.

References

About Jillian Powers

Photo of Jillian Powers

Jillian Powers, PhD, is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for the College of Education. She earned her PhD in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in instructional technology from FAU in 2014. Dr. Powers teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in instructional technology and design. Her research focuses on teachers’ adoption and integration of technology, preparing pre-service teachers to integrate technology, and STEM education. In 2019, she was selected to be an FAU Woman Leader in STEM.

Term: Behaviorism

Email: jrpowers@fau.edu

What is it?

The purposeful use of data, technology and content to modify a person’s learning and support experience to address their proven individual needs.

Why is it important?

Scale is one of the biggest challenges facing modern learning and development (L&D) teams. It doesn’t matter if you’re a team of one or one thousand. It’s almost impossible to meet the changing needs of each individual you support. Unfortunately, this lack of time and resources often results in the delivery of generic, one-size-fits-all training that fails to meet anyone’s needs. Adaptive learning helps L&D overcome this obstacle through the strategic blend of modern data and technology practices. Adaptive learning systems adjust the learning experience to focus on each person’s timely needs. This may include tactics such as sequencing the delivery of digital content based on a person’s profile, reinforcing topics with which a person is struggling and nudging a person towards an additional learning opportunity based on their stated interests or goals.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

Adaptive learning uses tools like data analytics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence to present the specific content a learner needs to complete right now, based on what is occurring in the business or on the job.

A fundamental contradiction challenges modern business: agility is essential for maintaining pace with the ever-changing nature of work. Therefore, people must always be learning and developing to meet the present and future needs of the organization. At the same time, these same people are time-starved, feel overworked, and possibly lack the resources they need to do their jobs.

So, to keep the organization moving forward it is incumbent upon learning and development teams to be highly effective in presenting learning content that is economical and efficient. One way to do this is to make adaptive learning methods part of the workplace learning strategy. By applying the latest approaches to data, technology, and content, staff receives the learning and development support they need—​when and where they need it.

Adaptive learning takes a variety of forms. For example:

  • Resource recommendations
  • Suggested reading or references
  • Coaching guidance
  • Targeted reinforcement
  • Structured activities, such as challenges, scenarios, simulations.

Adaptive learning not only reduces the time an individual spends, by recognizing and leveraging their existing capabilities, it also adapts the learning experience to the individual. Adaptive learning is designed to identify and close knowledge gaps quickly, promote engagement, and scale development in ways that were previously impossible. Note: adaptive learning might also coincide with learners’ preferred method(s) for learning. See learner preference and personalized learning

References

About JD Dillon

Photo of JD Dillon

JD Dillon is a veteran talent development leader, former Disney cast member and dedicated Back to the Future aficionado. He became a learning and performance expert over two decades working in operations and talent management with dynamic organizations, including The Walt Disney Company, Kaplan and AMC. A respected international speaker and author of The Modern Learning Ecosystem, JD continues to apply his passion for helping people do their best work every day in his roles as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect and founder of LearnGeek, an insights and advisory practice.

Term: Adaptive Learning

Email: jd@learngeek.co

Website: learngeek.co

Twitter: @JD_Dillon

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jddillon/