The Three Types of Learning – Part I – Knowledge Learning

Learning styles very differently from person to person.  As each of us is unique, so is the way we learn.  While there are 3 different types of learning, learning style is different as many of us combine the types of learning and knowledge absorption based on our needs and interests.   This series is about types of learning.  We’ll discuss learning styles in another series.

From food service to administrative work to senior management, every level of job requires learning. Just think about the breadth and depth of skills a typical worker has to learn when they start a new job:

  • Onboarding and orientation
  • Product training
  • Customer service training
  • Technology, tools, and systems training
  • Soft skills and “how things work” at the office

Despite the fact that effective learning is critical, many employers aren’t optimizing their training. But in a fast-changing world where up to 37% of employees are willing to leave jobs that don’t offer them the chance to grow, what should employers be doing to level up their training initiatives?

Simple – make their training more engaging, effective, and relevant. The best way to do thatis to incorporate the different types of learning into all training programs.

In this series, we’ll look at the 3 types of learning:  knowledge, experiential, and application.   We’ll explore what they are, what outcomes they produce, and how to use them to create an optimal learning experience.

What is knowledge learning?

Knowledge learning involves gaining a theoretical understanding of a topic, often by reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. It’s what happens when you set up a classroom full of desks and put a teacher at the front, reading from a book or writing on a chalkboard. It’s also what happens when you fill a conference room with employees and put an instructor and a whiteboard at the front.

This type of learning is appropriate for training programs focused on giving data that will be relevant for someone to understand as they begin their career with a company.   For example, it’s great for learning about the company’s history, organizational chart, and “who does what.” But it’s hard to make the case that this kind of learning is engaging, especially when it comes to employee training.

The role of knowledge learning in employee training

The goal of employee training is to instill skills that employees will use on the job. Knowledge learning falls short of meeting this goal because job skills generally require hands on activities.

From a most basic, just consider a fire drill. It’s not enough to just read about what to do in a fire. We perform fire drills so we know how to respond in real life. We do this because it’s easy to forget information that we read in a book or heard in a lecture.   — and that forgetting starts almost immediately after we’ve learned it.

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pinpointed this phenomenon over 100 years ago with his work on the “forgetting curve.” His findings showed that people forget about 70% of new information within 24 hours of learning it.

If the learning loss itself weren’t bad enough, this natural tendency to forget comes with a high price tag. With US companies spending upwards of $83 billion on corporate training, that’s a very low ROI on their training dollars.

A better approach to employee training

Options for employee training have evolved far beyond gathering everyone in a conference room or a hotel banquet hall for a day of powerpoint presentations. Virtual training solutions like Jigsaw Interactive have made immersive learning the new standard. Schedule a demo to see how it works.

But just what does it mean to be immersive? And do these approaches really work better than traditional classroom-type learning?

We’ll look at all this and more — including the impact of experiential learning — in part 2 of this blog series.