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Creating Action-Based Learning Environments. (Moving Past Passive Learning)

Today's learners are ready to move past passive models. We know we need to structure engaging, active (action-based) environments. These environments are naturally collaborative, but doesn't necessarily make them examples of collaborative learning. Or, vice versa.

This is a key distinction for those that want to innovate the way their teams and organizations want to learn

Collaborative learning is defined by trying to enhance learning by working together. But these collaborative experiences don’t necessarily have to be active. For example, we could study for a exam, which is collaborative but will result in no truly active element. It’s aim is comprehension and understanding.

Action-based learning provides learners with an experience in a setting where they are required to go beyond simple comprehension and put what they are learning into practice. Action-based learning is contrasted by passive learning (where the goals is comprehension, superficial understanding, and ‘correct’ answers). As we all know, passive learning is, unfortunately, the default model in most of our learning environments.

In a technical sense, there is no direct connection between the two.

Yet it's easy to see how action-based learning is much more engaging and challenging. Action-based environments foster much more collaboration. If a learner has to take action, there’s much higher likelihood to seek out advice, ask questions, and want feedback on initial ideas. This is especially true when a team (or cohort) is collectively working on trying to solve the same problem. It provides an experience where each learner is intrinsically curious about how everyone on the team solved that problem and can learn from their solutions.

Compare that to passive learning. We don’t really ‘learn’ anything by observing how our peers answer a quiz question or summarize something they've read about. Passive learning models can’t take advantage of the opportunities for cooperation and social interaction because there aren't many natural opportunities to do so. It’s only when we specifically ask learners to contribute their creative solutions that we can leverage the power of social learning where we learn from each other.

When we do that, we open up new windows for opportunities to learn from each other, build a stronger team, and challenge ourselves to come up with the best solutions for a given contextual problem that we are all facing. In short, we make learning relevant, solution-focused, and naturally interactive.

If your team had this sort of opportunity, what impact would you likely see?

  • More engagement?
  • Fewer drop outs?
  • Greater collaboration and teamwork?
  • A transparent archive of the team's solutions and feedback?

We believe learners are begging for this type of transformation. We would love to engage with others who are interested in sharing solutions, questions, and barriers.


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