Experiential training is a whole body of training methods that are used to develop behavioural skills and physical abilities. Role playing, equipment simulations, games, on the job training (OJT), behaviour modelling, case analysis and computer based training are some of the experiential learning methods that can be used to deliver a training session.
Experiential learning is also called as â€˜learning by doingâ€™ and the training involves a two way interaction unlike the informational training methods which are more of one sided. Here the major focus is not just mere transfer of facts and figures but development of skills in the participants, which may or not be the case in informational training.
Let us take the example of sales training. When sales training is imparted to the life insurance marketing people, they are introduced to policies and procedures and later asked to remember the same. These policies and procedures are unquestionable most of the time and the information flow is unidirectional, with the help of informational training methods. Whereas when it comes to developing sales skills in individuals, simulation games and role plays are used when there is two way communication between the facilitator and the participants.
A good training is a combination of both the training methods. Some of the the experiential training methods are discussed below:
On the Job Training (OJT): This training method is used to impart new skills to the employees when they are working on a certain position. Job rotation and apprenticeship training are some ways in which new skills can e developed within the employees.
Equipment Simulators: These are training methods where in real life situations / conditions are created to enable the employee to experience and prepare for the world of work. This type of training is often used to develop physical, behavioural and team building training. NASA for example uses simulators to train astronauts before they set out for the outer space. This type of training is very effective but the simulators are costly to develop.
Role Playing: A role play is used essentially to change attitudes and help people see things from the other personâ€™s eyes. It may also be used to practice certain job, behavioural skills or for analysing interpersonal problems. This type of training is more close to reality. The only drawback is that the employees may show hesitation role playing situations or may not even take it seriously.
Sensitivity Training: Sensitivity training is imparted to essentially increase the self awareness of the employees. It is aimed to help the employees or trainees see how others see them. Such type of training is used to increase the self worth of the trainees and also for changing interpersonal behaviours. More importantly it can wipe out negativity from the organisation; in fact many organisations in the west use this training method for top management.
Case Study: Case study analysis is perhaps the most frequently used tool for developing interpersonal, decision making and analytical skills within the trainees. It is a very good and cheap tool for developing problem solving skills within the individuals. The basic drawback is non availability of updated case studies. Generally one or two cases are discussed every year and there is no updating subsequently.
These are some of the experiential training methods that can be and are used for imparting training within organisations. Many organisations also use games and computer assisted instruction / training, the use and relevance depends on the kind of competency you are targeting.