Participatory learning dramatically improves employee career development

How the experience of active learning engages adults

It’s a well-known fact that a strong corporate learning program is an effective retention tool.

By encouraging employees to actively participate, employees can better understand new concepts practically, rather than just absorbing a slew of information. Participatory learning can increase employee career satisfaction when it’s carried out correctly. 

According to the National Institutes for Health, the very process of participating in any change activity can support workforce learning. A 2009 study conducted by E. Rosskam involved teaching employees new health procedures in order to improve safety. By using a shared platform where learners can interact and support one another, employees can perceive learning as something they own. 

HR Dive talked with Sean Murphy, CEO of Lootok, a business continuity and crisis management firm with headquarters in New York City, about the concept of participatory learning. When employees buy in to active career development, this participation creates another layer in the experience. 

HR Dive: How did you get involved with corporate learning?

Murphy: I founded Lootok in 2006 to address the need of companies dealing with crisis management and change, without all the fear that’s generally associated. I wanted to make things fun again. 

HR Dive: How did Lootok approach participatory learning? 

Murphy: In our efforts to make learning more interesting, it led us down a path of hardcore science of memory and cognizant learning. We explored activity based learning. What I learned is that we don't change a lot since childhood. We found out that we learn better from playing and activities.                                                                   

HR Dive: What does participatory learning mean in the corporate world?

Murphy: We can collect data, so learning is more measurable. With more on-demand models in place, the goal was to drive costs of traditional classroom learning down.  Workshop based transfer of knowledge performs so much better. How to earn a good ROI? Move away from best practices to proven practices.

HR Dive: Why is this shared experience so important? 

Murphy: Humans learn best in friendly group environments — they can react vs. become passive. After all, we are social animals. Participatory learning also puts pressure on us to participate. There are three types of learning, and participatory learning addresses them, so everyone learns better. 

HR Dive: What is effective with adult learners — in your experience?

Murphy: Really, three things are highly effective with worker training, including:

  1. Activity - Our programs offer 70 types of different activities and scenarios. 
  2. Workshops (Remote) storytelling - Very powerful testimonials, what people have learned (two min video). 
  3. Certifications - Incentive, think of themselves as an asset.

HR Dive: How can we create consistency between corporate training and on-demand e-learning?

Murphy: We use what we like to call the “Co-create shark tank." Essentially we rip it apart, rehearse things, perfect the timing, and test the assignments. 

HR Dive: Millennials view learning as a perk. How does this impact participatory learning? Any special considerations? 

Murphy: Millennials are known to warm up quickly. They like the collaboration more and are very keen. They come in not knowing what they want. Constantly moving. If they are not getting something, they check out. 

Participatory learning, that includes fun activities, peer sharing, and career building support, seem to be the magic mix that helps to increase engagement in adult learners.

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Filed Under: Learning