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Before online experiential learning, most training was a “sit-and-get affair”. You go to a classroom (either in person or digitally), sit for two hours or more, and fill your head with material. This is referred to as passive learning; you're simply trying to take in what someone else is saying.

However, ineffective training can cost a company dearly. Not to mention all of the hours that your team could have been doing something more productive. When it comes to training, though, there’s a bigger problem that is far more serious than money. Your employees don't remember what they've learned. As a result, many companies need to rethink their training approaches.

According to the Harvard Business Review article "Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development," [1] here are some of the mistakes made by companies:

  • 75% of 1,500 managers polled from 50 firms were unhappy with their own Learning & Development (L&D) department.
  • 70% of their employees claim they lack the necessary abilities to perform their duties.
  • 88% of their workers were unable to apply the abilities they had learnt in their existing training programs to their jobs.

So, what's going on here? Let's take a closer look at the reasons why.

  • Information Overload – your team is bombarded with too much information about new tools, techniques and procedures.
  • Lack of Engaging Content and/or Delivery – one of the main issues with current training is that it just doesn’t engage your employees. Sitting through long slide presentations with the occasional video thrown in does not produce an effective learning environment.
  • Employee Engagement – another issue is that traditional Learning & Development programmes do not motivate your team to learn more. Actually, most training programmes have little or no connection to your employee’s everyday job.
  • Lack of Ongoing Support – there’s a big difference between giving employees something to read once or watch a few videos, versus helping them master their skills on an ongoing basis. After you've given your employees new tools, you'll need to put in place some form of support structure. Otherwise, they'll simply forget what they've learned or, worse, revert to old behaviors when they can't remember how to do things differently.

The pioneering research of German Psychologist Hermann Ebbingham gave us "The Forgetting Curve" [2] This illustrates how quickly information is forgotten if we don't make an effort to remember it. His research suggests that we forget 50% of information within 24 hours and 70% within 48 hours, putting the 'use it or lose it' principle to the test.

What are our options for dealing with this?

It is clear that our standard training, learning, and development methods need to shift. Companies are increasingly incorporating interactive learning experiences including challenges, game-based learning and simulations into their training and development programs.

What is Online Experiential Learning?

Online experiential learning is a form of instructional delivery designed to be collaborative and engaging.

1. Participants learn by doing

They perform tasks that require them to practice new skills in a safe, supportive environment. Online environments make it easy for people around the world to connect, collaborate and perform these types of hands-on tasks. And, because it is interactive, this helps your team process and retain the information more easily.

2. Real-time access to mentors, coaches, and feedback

This is one of the most important aspects of an interactive e-learning experience. From the viewpoint of a manager, they are able to observe instant outcomes on work accomplished. Mentors and coaches can also provide vital insights that can help participants better understand crucial topics or tactics that they may not have fully grasped otherwise.

3. Bridge the gap between Theory vs Practice

A strong employee-learning program also helps employees bridge the gap between what they know (theory) and what they can do (practice). Online experiential learning is an excellent technique to bring theory to life via practice.


Experiential learning, we feel, is the most effective way to improve processes. Our goal is to provide a realistic environment in which employees may apply and learn Lean techniques.

For companies looking to engage in effective Lean training programs, we've created an online experience game: LeanTeams [3]. It gives your staff the opportunity to learn the value of working as part of a Lean team and how to improve workflow operations. The game is more indicative of the tools people in your business actually use in practice because it uses virtual communication and workflow.



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With a background in engineering, Steve has over 20 years’ experience in operations management in multinational organizations. He has supported lean process improvements in all business sectors including lean construction.