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Product Code: ILSC2007_604

The Importance of Hands-on Learning
Leah Cridlin, Rockwell Laser Industries, Inc.; Cincinnati OH USA
Presented at ILSC 2007

As trainers we must focus on the learners outcome. Hands-on learning allows students to incorporate what is being taught into real world situations, thus allowing them to retain more information. Adult learners need to understand why they are learning a new task/skill. People learn better through active experience than passive listening. People learn better through interacting with one another than working alone. Trends and Causes for Hands on Learning Include: Teaming of employees Many organizations have reduced their managerial hierarchies, empowered their employees, and created cross-function teams. It makes sense that people who will work on teams should be trained in teams.

Diversification of the Workforce

Multicultural groups are eager to understand and communicate with one another. Diversity training is offered mostly in new employee orientation to respect the difference of others but doesn't demonstrate how to work together. Hands-on training allows multicultural groups to solve problems and work together.

Organizational Learning

There is an importance of learning together as an organization. Organizations want to compete, survive and thrive. All strategies for creating and sustaining learning organizations require that employees interact with one another and explore the changing world through what-if simulations.

Learning about Learning

Advances in cognitive sciences have identified the limitations of traditional IQ test scores and verbal approaches to teaching and training. Theories on multiple intelligences and cognitive experiential self-theory clearly indicate the need to balance traditional training with accelerated approaches.

Changing Preferences of Learners

Employees of today who have been brought up on television shows are increasingly intolerant of passive approaches to learning. Trainees who have enjoyed interactive instruction are unwilling to return to the traditional data-dump approach.

Types of Hands on Training

Instructional Games
Simulation Games
Role Plays

Guidelines for Conducting an Instructional Activity

Before the Activity

You must prepare the area, the materials, yourself and the students (players). You will also need to brief the students (players) and let the game begin.

During the Activity

The major responsibility is to maintain a balance between competition and cooperation, between tight and loose structure, between a slow and a fast pace, between individuals and teams and other such extremes.

After the Activity

The trainer's critical responsibility is to conduct a debriefing discussion to enable students to reflect on their experiences and share their insights. You must also integrate the outcomes of the activity with other elements of your instructional plan.


When you allow students to be involved and responsible for their own learning it suddenly takes on a new importance to them. As a trainer you still must complete your training objectives. If lecture, demonstration and hands-on learning are successfully conducted then learners have accomplished their goal in attending your course. And you as a trainer have accomplished yours.

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