Hands on training—also referred to as experiential learning—is learning by doing. This type of training is effective for teaching software applications, procedures and equipment, and also helps instructors immediately determine whether a student has adequately learned a new skill or process.
In addition, hands on training accelerates learning, provides a safe learning environment, creates self-directed learners, motivates students, increases engagement and delivers strong ROI.
Students learn better when they experience what they are learning. That’s why hands on training is so important, explains learning and development consultant Deb Peterson in her article on experiential learning. This training can be compared to learning how to ride a bike. Would you teach a child to ride a bike by actually getting on the bike—or by reading about it?
Provides a safe learning environment
Mistakes happen. Consequently, teaching students in a safe, controlled environment is critical. During training, be sure to provide a dedicated virtual training environment instead of providing access to development or production environments, so students have the freedom to learn and try new things without jeopardizing your business continuity. And for added security and privacy, you might have to provide a training environment with non-production data.
Creates self-directed learners
Experiential learning requires students to tackle unfamiliar situations and tasks in a real-world context. To complete these tasks, students must navigate what they know, what they don’t know and how to learn new information. This type of learning–which helps students develop into self-directed, lifelong learners–requires students to reflect on prior knowledge, apply this previous learning to new situations and master new skills.
Experiential learning motivates students. When students see the relevance of their training experiences in real-life scenarios, they are more motivated to learn. Students also are motivated when they have opportunities to practice and receive immediate feedback.
Increases engagement levels
Hands on training engages students in the learning process. As a result, students’ attention and focus increases and they develop critical thinking skills. In addition, integrating hands on training into a course requires students to participate in class, interact with the instructor and collaborate with other students -- instead of just sitting and listening.
Delivers strong return on investment (ROI)
Hands on training goes beyond just sitting and listening to lectures and PowerPoint presentations. Not only does it enhance knowledge, but it offers an efficient way to transfer skills to students and reduces the amount of further training that is needed in the future.
Additionally, according to The Learning Pyramid, lecture, reading, audio visual and demonstration are passive learning methods, whereas practicing by doing is active learning methods. And active participation in the learning process results in a much higher retention of learning. This produces exceptional ROI compared to a learning program without hands on training, which focuses primarily on theory and memorization.
An organization’s success depends on its employees. Without the right employees, businesses will not grow, become more profitable or generate new ideas. Research supports the idea that keeping employees engaged and motivated--as well as retaining the best performing employees--has positive effects on corporate financial results.
There are many different options when it comes to training delivery methods. While each method has pros and cons, hands on training remains a very effective way to learn.