At the heart of everything I do are “adult learning experiences”. Whether I am coaching, running a workshop, facilitating a meeting or more formally training, my key concern is to create a lasting memory. Oftentimes, when learning something we end up in a formal setting taking notes. These scribbles are seldom revisited more than once. This type of learning tends to be poor in transfer of knowledge and skills. Creating a contextual adult learning experience allows us “get it in the bones” and transform both the thinking and the subsequent acting of the participant.
Towards a definition of Adult Learning Experiences
An Adult Learning Experience is any activity that provides the participant a lasting memory of a lesson learned. Oftentimes, successful approaches are contextually-driven, experiential-based, transformational in their essence and geared towards adults.
The key components of the learning I create are:
- The idea of contextual learning is that learning occurs only when the learners connect information to their own frame of reference (see a.o. Hull* who pioneered the concept)
- Learning happens through the reflection on what was done. The key is to work with the discoveries and knowledge of firsthand experiences. This in contrast to learning from hearing or reading about others’ experiences. The key thinker is Kolb* who developed a the 4 step experiential learning model. In this thinking, all learning goes through 4 stages: the actual experience, the reflection on the experience, the conceptualization and the active experimentation. The latter feeds back into new experiences which trigger the whole cycle again.
- This means the focus is on developing the thinking on an autonomous level. Hence, the thinking (and learning) is not guided by by an authority figure, but based on our own interpretations. This stands in contrast to working with and acting upon purposes, beliefs, judgements, and feelings of others.
- For Adults
- All the tools and techniques I use are relevant in the learning of adults. Adults and children have different approaches to learning. Adults learn starting from a framework of past experiences. Children, on the contrary, start clean slate, with every experience being a new one.
- In longer term efforts, like the leadership program or the inclusive culture transformation I (co-)designed, creating a community of practice (a “tribe” in modern lingo) supports the learning in the long run. A platform to share experiences and where one-another is supported in the reflection and learning, helps to ingrain the learning.