Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur used to be stuck in a lecture-based teaching rut. Although he got high marks on his students’ teacher evaluations, most of their comments said things like “I hate physics,” or “physics sucks” (Harvard.edu), which was not how he wanted students leaving his class to feel. One day in the classroom, he noticed several of his students falling asleep. Out of desperation, he asked them to discuss a problem he had been presenting with each other, and he was amazed at the results. Not only did the students wake up, but they solved the problem and seemed eager for another. Says Mazur, “I’ve never looked back.”
Interactive, hands-on, also known as project-based, student-centered learning has indisputably better results than lecture-based learning. This statement is as true in the corporate training world as it is in the educational classroom. Let’s look at the benefits of incorporating hands-on learning in a virtual training setting.
Reach More People
We’re all familiar with the VARK learning modalities, right? We know that people are generally categorized as visual, aural, read/write, or kinesthetic learners. Did you know that the kinesthetic or hands-on learning method, is by far the most preferred multimodal preference among the four? By integrating project-based learning into your training, engagement is required and learners will work together to solve problems. Questions, that otherwise might not be asked, will be put on the table by the team as they strive to solve or complete the project. Interest is high and the intimacy of working with a group builds the necessary communications, problem solving and teamwork comraderie companies need and want.
Build Teamwork Skills
Project-based, hands-on learning is usually approached in small groups, which helps participants hone their collaboration, listening, and conflict-resolution skills (Destination Imagination). They also build relationships with fellow project members, which pays rich dividends in strengthening company culture.
As Dr. Mazur’s experience attests, engagement increases exponentially when you get people involved in owning their learning. He was able to double his students’ learning gains almost immediately and then triple them as he continued to build his interactive teaching techniques (Harvard.edu).
Engagement is absolutely crucial to effective learning. It’s hard to learn when you’re bored, falling asleep or disengaged with the instructor.
In a Purdue University study, one group of students sat through a lecture on water quality, while another group built a water-purification device. Study leader Melissa Dark stated that, “In every area we tested, the students who were involved in a hands-on project learned more and demonstrated a deeper understanding of the issues than the traditional group.”
The reason hands-on learning promotes retention is because it engages both sides of the brain. Listening and analyzing processes occur in the left hemisphere, whereas visual and spatial processes are processed in the right. Because of this the brain forms stronger connections and can store more relevant information (BYF.org).
Imagine reaching people, encouraging teamwork, building engagement, and boosting retention appeal during training? This is easily accomplished when you use the right virtual learning solution.