Hands-on learning is nothing new. In fact, as early as 350 BCE Aristotle wrote, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” What has changed is how we incorporate hands-on activities into training.
What is Hands-On Learning?
Hands-on learning is the process of learning by doing. To be most effective, hands-on activities should mimic a real-world scenario as much as possible.
Activities that work well in a live classroom setting can include task simulations, role-playing, software training or problem-solving exercises.
Benefits of Hands-On Learning in Classroom Training
There are significant advantages that illustrate why hands-on training is better than other more traditional learning methods and why you should incorporate hands-on activities into your live classroom training.
With all the work that is put into developing a training program, it can be counterproductive when learners don’t retain what they are taught. Changing up your classroom instruction to include hands-on activities can dramatically increase your retention rates. When looking at retention rates of other presentation styles versus hands-on methods, research shows that learners retain only 5% of material presented through lecture and 30% of which is taught by demonstration. Hands-on participation, on the other hand, can lead to as much as a 75% retention rate.
Learners can easily tune out even the most engaging lectures or presentations – leading to missed opportunities for learning. Hands-on training keeps learners engaged in what they are learning. Not only is it very difficult for learners to zone out while performing a hands-on exercise, if learners know they are expected to replicate what they are being shown, they are more apt to be attentive.
Opportunities for Critique
One of the biggest benefits of hands-on training in a live classroom is the opportunity for instant feedback, instruction and critique. Whether the learner is completing a technical exercise or taking part in a role-playing exercise, the live classroom environment makes it easy for learners to benefit from interaction from the instructor and peers and immediately implement this feedback to improve.
It might be cliché, but practice does make perfect. Even those with natural talent can refine skills through repetition. When training provides the opportunity for practice, it is more likely that learners will be able to better perform the skill they learned after training. Time for practice can be incorporated into your live classroom training through realistic role play for soft skills development or by using a Virtual Training Lab to provide real-world scenarios for technical training.
Novice mistakes can pose a considerable threat to many organizations. Hands-on training allows learners to master skills prior to working in real-world environments. Incorporate simulations into your classroom to allow learners to make mistakes without risk to infrastructure. For example, cyber security trainees can learn how to secure a network without putting the live environment at risk. An employee in a customer facing position can practice in-class role plays to learn how to present information without risk of harming an existing customer relationship.
Benefits of Differing Learning Styles
Not everyone learns in the same way. While an auditory or visual learner may be able to master skills by watching an instructor perform a task, a kinesthetic learner will perform better if they perform the task themselves. Offering hands-on activities in your classroom can benefit all types of learners by providing opportunities for all types of learners to observe as well as perform.
Improved Problem Solving
Hands-on training can expose students to challenges and obstacles they might encounter on the job. Learners can then work through these scenarios in a safe training environment—developing their problem-solving skills without risk. Incorporating hands-on problem-solving exercises into a live classroom environment also allows learners to ask for help from the instructor and confer with peers to further develop problem-solving skills. These learners will then be better equipped to deal with problems once training is complete.
As Confucius once said in the ancient Chinese proverb: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Incorporate hands-on learning activities into your classroom training to further retention and understanding for your learners.
Virtual Training Labs offer the flexibility to provide hands-on technical training to learners regardless of their location. Download our Complete Guide to Training with Virtual Labs.