Experiential Learning: A Complete Guide

Remember those “mere zamane mein” stories by our grandparents? Weren’t they so fulfilling? However, have you ever thought about why did they pop up out of nowhere? Well, that’s because they were intended towards imparting a lesson. A lesson that academia can never teach us. A value that can only be imbibed when learnt hands-on.

So, here’s an attempt to understand about a new and unconventional learning method.

Experiential learning.

Why adopt the experiential learning style?

Well, because it is the only tool that provides teaches skills and develops competencies. It is also ‘live’ in nature thus providing real-time opportunities for failure and rectification. Moreover what gets amplified in the process is instincts and reflective habits. Revisiting your work to understand gaps and bridge them the next time. This was all about learning from one’s own experience. Let’s flip the coin now.

It is equally important to learn from the experiences of others. Why commit the same mistake all over again? The ability to do so differentiates an intelligent being from a smart one. It also provides an edge to an individual who hasn’t had any prior work experience but is set to step out in the industry.

Moreover, Employees can easily keep up with the latest trends and skills needed to succeed in today’s new workplace. They do this by taking online courses or attending specialised skill workshops. As a result, employers are now increasingly valuing soft skills in prospective workers. In some industries #softskills like empathy, adaptability and active listening are placed beside degree qualifications.

So, Always remember this:

Education ≠  Knowledge
Degrees ≠  Skills
Certifications ≠ Competencies

There are numerous influencers and trendsetters who have paved their way through the harsh realities of life by leveraging the power of experiential learning. Let us name a few from varied discipline so as to imply that it isn’t some tactic favouring a domain.

  1. Politics – Narendra Modi, The current Indian Prime Minister
  2. Entrepreneurs – Richard Branson, owner of Virgin and Henry Ford who requires no introduction
  3. Actor/Actress and Celebrity – Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling
  4. Comedian Producer and Film-maker – Chris Rock

The Experiential Learning Process

The process of meaning-making from a direct experience is known as experiential learning. Reflection, communication with colleagues, and application of hands-on learning into new environments are all ways to build meaning. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the process of experiential learning so as to reap its numerous advantages.

Step 1: Experience – Life is all about garnering experiences and living them to their fullest, isn’t it? Well, it’s sort of wealth accumulation, only intangible. The more the experiences, the wider one’s perspective and competencies.

Step 2: Share – Sharing is an extremely powerful tool. It is a kind of welfare act that one performs which enhances the overall IQ of the surrounding networks. While doing so, one refreshes the memory and repeats the experience so as to better retain and comprehend the experience.

Step 3: Process – So, even if a student has a fantastic summer internship in their industry, that doesn’t mean they’ve connected the dots between what they’ve learned in class and the skills needed on the job. There is no application without reflection. Reflection of the experience garnered. Thus, it is imperative to decode the experience and extract learnings, points of improvement, opportunities and challenges. This process is being refered to in the 3rd and most crucial step of experential learning.

Step 4: Generalize – Contrary to popular opinions, learnings can be generalized. The ability to do so provides one with a competitive advantage in all walks of life. Remember this word of caution: Generalization ≠  Copy + Paste. It rather indicates that you must mould depending on the situation and its requirement. Don’t forget, the same piece fits differently when tried in solving multiple puzzles.

Step 5: Apply – This is the easiest step of all. Take a leap of faith and implement the learnings from your past experiences. You may have to polish and refine them, but they will always work. Don’t fear failure. Consider it as an opportunity to try and learn. Who knows you might be titled the ‘Innovator of the year’!

Cannot wait to try? Nor can we and our team members. Do let us know as soon as you embark on this journey. We are excited to know more. But currently, we are equally excited to share all we have. It’s time to take some notes, literally.

Experiential Learning | Plant Breeding E-Learning in Africa

The Process of The Process

“So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus, every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”

This is an excerpt from the commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005 at Standford University in California USA. You must be wondering about the role of this little piece of speech. Well, imagine if you had received this keynote speech address. Except for the last bit where Steve Jobs connected the dots.

What he essentially did is learnt a new skill. Recalled his prior experience and shared it with his team. Discovered ways in which his knowledge of calligraphy can be used to integrate with his new offering. Lastly, came up with beautiful fonts in Mac which served as a differentiator for his product. Had it not been for his capability to “connect dots”, the market would have never seen this revolutionary innovation and a game-changer.

(Learn and Practice) Repeat, that’s all we can say.

Best Practices

  1. Spend at least 15-20 minutes of your day reflecting. Recollecting all that you experienced in the day. Upon recall, invest some time debriefing the experience into multiple heads of challenges, opportunities, lessons learnt etc.
  2. Build offline and online communities similar to book clubs to share experiences and imbibe lessons from each other’s experiences. Conduct such activities in the workplace too across departments.
  3. Keep up the spirit of participation and seeking novelty. It could be as basic as participating in a webinar or taking an international trip. This will add to your bouquet of experiences and skillsets.
  4. Develop an entrepreneurial bent of mind to experiment and learn.
  5. Always carry a note and a pen. Make it a point to jot down whatever you absorbed from an encounter be it a meeting or a casual chat.


“There’s only one thing more painful than learning from experience is not learning from experience”, said Archibald MacLeish. But we believe that there’s only one thing more painful than learning from experience is not learning by reflecting on the experience. At no point, we suggest that education does not lie on the same pedestal of importance. Rather, education helps one imbibe values that mould how and what we absorb out of an experience.

So, let us know your thoughts about this blog. Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. Why don’t we leverage this platform and turn it into a ‘lifetime jamboree’ to foster collaborative experiential learning. Follow us at AntWak for more!

About the Author

Anushree Dalal is a passionate content creator and currently pursuing her MBA from MICA, Ahmedabad. She brings her commitment for simplified storytelling to our platform. She has contributed multiple blogs in varied domains like Education, Digital Marketing etc. Follow her on LinkedIn here.

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