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Active Learning Develops Talent

Everyone learns differently. Active learning is a type of learning that's broadly defined as learning by doing or hands-on training. We generally regard this type of learning and training as the best way for companies to develop talent.

There are many reasons for this, but most of all, it engages people. When people learn anything by doing they are more likely to recall their education. When employers put forth the effort to properly train their employees with hands-on active learning, employees are better off for it, which means the company is, too.

Active Versus Passive

Passive learning is sitting at a conference listening to industry leaders tell you why they are successful. They give you quick tidbits of information, throw a few fancy PowerPoint slides at you, and before you have made it to the break between speakers, you have forgotten the whole point the speaker was trying to make. That is not an effective use of anyone's time.

Active learning, on the other hand, keeps you engaged and yearning for more. Actively participating in the analysis, evaluation, and application of the ideas the speaker is throwing at you help to give you the tools you can take back to your company to help your team excel even further.

The best part about active learning is that the concept applies across all industries and companies of all shapes and sizes. The knowledge gained is wholly and completely transferable to your team, too. 

The core idea of active learning is four simple steps:

  1. Learn
  2. Apply
  3. Feedback
  4. Reflect

You learn the information and then apply it to a specific situation. You then receive feedback either from a teacher, manager, or team during a real-life situation. Finally, reflection allows your brain to process why you applied the way you did and make any adjustments to make the process run smoother next time. Taking this approach can make your team more efficient.

Why Active Learning is Effective

True talent transformation relies on learning and training that translates into doing. All the teaching and training in the world is useless if employees do nothing with that information they have received. So what are company leaders supposed to do? Create training and retention programs that give employees access to the knowledge and resources they need to do their job through active learning and training. 

There are many reasons why active learning is so effective. The way the human brain works is fascinating. By doing something, the brain better retains the process of doing that task but also has a better understanding of why that is the right way to complete the task. The best part about this way of learning is that the brain also analyzes the process and can make improvements on it or create shortcuts and cut out unnecessary steps. It's like a built-in process improvement machine.


Participating in the process helps you retain the process itself. As is the case with any company, collaboration helps people get to a resolution faster. But it also has the benefit of letting colleagues see how different thought patterns work and how they can incorporate those into their own decision-making process.


When employees work together to resolve an issue, they are engaged in active conversation and active learning. During this process, people often process ideas faster and with a deeper understanding. This helps your employees engage with one another on a deeper level. Over time, they will also be able to address issues and concerns from customers faster and better. This results in a win for the customer, which benefits everyone involved.


Today's world sees a great deal of mechanical or computer thinking. That is to say that people are actively thinking less than in the past and letting computers, algorithms, talking heads, or their friends tell them what to think. The brain is a muscle and, like any muscle, requires exercise.

The best way to exercise the brain is to think. Active learning shifts the focus of learning and understanding from being told what to think and do to figuring out what to think and do with the information you have been given. There are many ways to exercise the brain and thinking is just one.


Active learning increases the ability of the individual to retain more of what they are learning. It has been said that people retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 90% of what they do. The numbers ring true for retaining employees, too. By investing in your team and showing them you care about their development, you are able to retain the talent you currently have and are better positioned to attract more. 


Collaborative tools and active learning can combine to create and truly inspiring and innovative atmosphere. When employees engage together to solve problems, resolve differences, or help customers, the end result is innovation. The company has a new process or a new product offering that helps to better serve your customers. Not only can this result in additional revenue for the company but the innovation that comes from a team creates a bond that is difficult to break.

Learn the Techniques First

Skills development in the corporate world is complex, difficult, and often costly. But any investment in your talent is an investment in your company. Employees are willing to put in additional work to learn new skills. As leaders in the company, it's your job to give them the development they crave.

Your job is to attract and retain top talent. One of the best ways to do that is by making sure the talent understands what their job is by giving them exceptional training. We've all attended conferences where we sit in ballroom after ballroom listening to keynote after keynote tell us what we are doing wrong.

Instead of that, try practicing what you preach and attend Asia's largest experiential conference, Corporate Innovation Summit 2020. We promise you will not find yourself sitting around all day bored out of your mind. We conduct high-level workshops with world-class innovators who will show you exactly how to conduct your own active learning at your company. We look forward to seeing you there!