Bored employee at training programme

Why Companies are turning to Online Experiential Learning for Training & Development

Before online experiential learning, most training was a “sit-and-get affair”.  You come to a classroom (in person or virtually), sit down for two hours or more, and get your brain filled with information. This is known as passive learning; you’re just trying to absorb what someone else is telling you.

Ineffective training can cost a business thousands of euro in missed opportunities.  Not to mention all of those wasted hours where employees could have been doing more useful work. But there’s an even bigger issue than money when it comes to training.  Employees aren’t retaining what they learn. Which is why experts say that many businesses need to seriously rethink their training methods.

How can organisations make the most of experiential learning? What are the key benefits of immersive learning? Why are more companies turning to eLearning as a means of providing high-quality training and development? Find out everything you need to know about this exciting new approach to learning in this article.

Graph on Size of Training Industry Globally

The Cost of Learning & Development

Since 2010, we’ve spent $1,720.0 bn on training globally.  Allowing for a decrease in 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic, experts predict this is set to increase.  So, if you’re spending this amount of money on training, learning and development – are you sure you’re spending it wisely?

According to Harvard Business Review on “Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development”, they found that:

  • First of all, 75% of 1,500 managers surveyed from 50 companies were dissatisfied with their own Learning & Development (L&D) department.
  • Secondly, 70% of their employees said they don’t have the skills they need to do their jobs.
  • Finally, 88% of their employees were unable to apply the skills learned in their current training programmes to their jobs.

So, why is this happening?  Let’s look a little closer at the reasons why.

Information Overload

We’re living in an information-saturated society, where we’re constantly being bombarded with new material. There’s so much to learn.  Many businesses end up falling into information overload: trying to take in too much at once – taking on too many tools, techniques and systems.

Lack of Engaging Content and/or Delivery

The biggest problem with corporate training is that most of it isn’t engaging enough to make a lasting impression. Sitting through lengthy monologues with slides, even with the odd  YouTube video thrown in, whether in person or in a virtual setting does not create a learning environment.  

Employee Engagement

The issue with traditional L&D is that it doesn’t make employees want to learn more. Rather, they feel they’re being told what to learn in standardised training sessions dictated by well-intentioned L&D calendars, with little or no relevance to their daily work, resulting in low employee engagement..

Lack of Ongoing Support

There’s a big difference between giving employees something to read once or watch a few videos, versus helping them master their skills on an ongoing basis. You have to have some kind of support system in place after you provide new tools for your people.  Or else they’ll forget what they learned or even worse, fall back into bad habits because they don’t remember how to do things differently.

The Forgetting Curve

The German Psychologist Hermann Ebbingham’s pioneering studies of memory gave us “The Forgetting Curve”.  This demonstrates the rate at which information is forgotten over time if we don’t attempt to retain it. More recent studies suggest we forget 50% of information within 24 hours and a whopping 70% with 48 hours, giving real credence to the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.   

The Forgetting Curve Graph

How do we overcome this? It is clear that something needs to change with our traditional training, learning and development.

Above all, people are more motivated to learn when it is in their own interest.  They need to know that their time spent attending training is going to add value to them in their daily work or enhance their career prospects. When we attend training that is relevant and aligned to our roles, we are more likely to engage, retain the information and apply the learning to the real-world situations they are experiencing.

Clearly it is important to create an understanding and expectation of the benefits of specific training initiatives. And to ensure that the training delivers on these benefits.

Challenges, game based learning, simulations and other experiential activities are no longer reserved only for the classroom and the real world.  More and more companies are using interactive learning experiences to enhance their training and development programmes.

And here are the reasons why.

What is Online Experiential Learning?

Online experiential learning is a form of instructional delivery designed to be collaborative and engaging.  Participants learn by doing—performing tasks that require them to practice new skills in a safe, supportive environment. Online environments make it easy for people around the world to connect, collaborate and perform these types of hands-on tasks.  There is an interactive, individualised element of online experiences that helps participants process information more easily and retain it over time.

High Level of Knowledge Retention

One of the benefits of an interactive experience is a high level of knowledge retention. This form of teaching allows employees to process new information in a way that makes it easier to remember later on.  When this type of learning is combined with 1:1 mentoring and ongoing support, the learning capabilities are accelerated.

Acceleration of Learning

Online immersive learning is an interactive experience where employees play a vital role in their own education. After all, It can give your team an accelerated learning experience that will leave their minds reeling with new ideas as well as driving home the important lessons.

Access to Real-Time Mentoring, Coaching and Feedback

One of the key features of an interactive e-learning experience is real-time access to mentors, coaches and feedback. From a manager’s perspective, they get to see immediate results on progress being made. Furthermore, mentors and coaches can provide invaluable insights that help participants better understand key concepts or strategies they might not otherwise fully understand.

Online Experiential Learning

Virtual Learning bridges the Gap between Theory and Practice

Most successful businesses today understand that they must teach their employees to operate in a real-world, real-time environment. While some companies do a good job of providing hands-on experience during on-the-job training, these sessions only account for a small portion of an employee’s overall education.

Moreover, a successful employee-learning program should help bridge the gap between what employees know (theory) and what they can do (practice). Interactive experiential education provides an effective way to make theory come alive through practice.

Personalised Learning

It also gives trainers greater scope for personalisation – making it much easier to tailor sessions according to participants’ skill levels and goals. By offering an interactive learning experience in which trainees can learn by doing, rather than simply sitting back and listening, virtual learning helps them retain the information long-term.

Shared Learning Culture

Online experiential learning within a group can promote a shared learning culture approach, where employees benefit from each other’s knowledge. Creating communities of learning via online forums afford learners opportunities to express their opinions, ask questions and generate follow up ideas for implementation. Lively discussions are a great way to reinforce points of learning and as well as supporting learners in remembering the content of a session.

Group Projects are another means of harnessing engagement as learners are accountable for completing their part and are driven to succeed in the spirit of peer collaboration.

Ability to Immediately Apply Knowledge to Own Job

Interactivity is crucial in an effective learning experience. Participants in a seminar or classroom setting can certainly learn—and many of them do—but they’re limited by their environment. Even if there’s interaction within a group, it can feel stifled.  There’s no opportunity to apply newly-learned knowledge immediately on their job, because they aren’t on their job during class hours. This problem is eliminated entirely with online experiential learning and personalised mentor sessions.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin


Over the past year, we have developed an online experiential game for businesses who want to implement effective Lean training programmes.  This team-based game allows our clients to learn the power of a Lean organisation.  LeanTeams is an online team-based learning programme that teaches the concepts of Lean through a business simulation game. 

In addition, it enables your employees to experience the importance of working within a  Lean team and how to make the workflow processes more effective.  Using virtual communication and workflow means that the game is more representative of the tools people in your business actually use in practice.  LeanTeams online training is suitable for any participant in any role.  Furthermore, this programme can be delivered to remote teams saving your business both time and money.


We believe that experiential learning works best for process improvement.  Our goal is to offer a realistic experience where employees can both practice and learn the concepts of Lean.

LeanTeams online training is run over 8 weeks consisting of 2 half day online classroom sessions and 5 mentor 1-1 sessions with one of our Lean Consultants.  This is followed by a process improvement presentation which is directly linked to your employee’s job.

As always, we are available for a Free Online Consultation to answer any questions you may have about starting your Lean project or perhaps you’re looking for a new approach to Lean in your organisation.  Our experienced team can also advise on what financial supports are available to you in more detail.

“I really enjoyed the programme, especially the 1:1 mentoring which allowed me to take a reasonably complex concept and whittle it down to 2 concise process improvements that should improve business practice.”
“LeanTeams is a great stimulating programme, interactive in nature, and effective when it comes to improving the process of any group in any kind of company.”
“Thoroughly enjoyed this experience. The training was hugely beneficial but the following mentoring sessions really gave me a great understanding of the different DMAIC methods and how they can be used. The team were extremely knowledgeable and helpful.”
“A great programme, the biggest thing I've taken away is to ask 'Why?' as challenging your processes and procedures will improve them.”


When it comes to developing your workforce, there’s no better tool than an interactive learning experience. The more difficult something is, the more impactful it will be.

eLearning tools not only create a lasting impression with employees but also lead to their ability to retain knowledge in different ways than traditional methods of training. If you’re looking for effective ways of helping your workforce learn new skills and become better at what they do, we recommend turning them into an interactive learning experience.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Why Companies are turning to Online Experiential Learning for Training & Development.  You may also be interested in reading our insights on ETAC launch LeanTeams Virtual Training Solutions and The Best Start to Problem Solving.  All our blogs are available to read here.  To keep up-to-date with all the news from ETAC, subscribe to our newsletter.  Please connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *