Make Experiential Learning Part of the Onboarding Process

While organizations relay a lot of information to employees throughout the onboarding process, it’s important for new hires to take ownership of their learning. That doesn’t mean they decide what activities to complete or what content to consume; instead, it refers to the active role employees play in synthesizing new information and connecting it to what they already understand. This is a process that is embedded into experiential learning.

This way of thinking translates to how new hires articulate their knowledge as well. For example, if an onboarding manager assigns a video exercise around organizational norms, employees should have some freedom to choose how to demonstrate the necessary competencies to complete it. Not only is this kind of activity a real-world application of knowledge, but it also represents the first step of experiential learning.

People often equate experiential learning with “learning by doing” or “hands-on learning,” but those phrases don’t accurately sum up the entire concept. It takes more than a firsthand learning experience for an exercise to be experiential. 

As part of his experiential learning theory, David A. Kolb uses four “bases” of learning—experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting—to describe how knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Kolb and other educational researchers believe that when the learning process stops after the experience, it limits an individual’s ability to reflect on what they’ve done and gain a deeper understanding from it.

To ensure new hires retain more information and understand exactly what an organization expects from them, onboarding managers should leverage the power of experiential learning.

But how can they, especially when a new hire must complete most of their onboarding program from a distance?

The right video assessment platform can provide all the resources onboarding managers need to do just that.

How video assessment enables experiential learning

Video often plays a big role in onboarding programs, but this technology alone isn’t enough to enable experiential learning. Since reflection must occur following an individual’s experience, the proper solution must support some form of self-assessment. The best video assessment platforms include features where learners can create a video, self-assess it prior to submission, and then re-record it if necessary.

The importance of reflecting on prior performance can’t be overstated. Most people are their own harshest critics, so just having new hires watch themselves demonstrating a skill or completing a task on video allows them to become a source of internal feedback for themselves. Using their observations from the previous video, employees have the opportunity to improve on their performance each time they reflect.

Since the experiential learning process is cyclical, every aspect of it connects together. In other words, the process doesn’t just stop once an employee submits a video to their onboarding manager. Not only will the employer also have more feedback, they might tailor the next part of the new hire’s onboarding based on their performance as well. This might include more information the employee can synthesize and act on. All of this new data then impacts the next video activity, or experience, they have. Again, this process continuously repeats.

These kind of exercises are certainly possible in person, but the ability to have new hires reflect on their performance immediately after the fact is difficult to replicate. It typically takes new employees eight months to reach full productivity, so using video assessment platforms helps onboarding managers keep everything necessary for experiential learning in one place.

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