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- Updated on 16/04/2021

Learning By Doing: The Most Efficient Training

Knowing how rather than just knowing is the whole point of employee training. The rapid evolution of processes and employment mobility these days call for continuous training, accessible without the constraints of place and time.

But despite the evolution of techniques and digitalization, which continually try to reinvent learning, training models seem to remain frozen. As products of the classroom, trainers still rely on a passive pedagogy, where the learner builds on theory and then finds himself lost when faced with practice. He doesn’t know how to put theory to action.

To overcome this problem of efficiency, the Learning by Doing method is becoming more and more common in modern training. Or learning through practice...


Learning by Doing: A classic practice

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

We owe this quote to Aristotle, famous thinker of pedagogy if ever there was one. A wise philosopher who, in more ancient times, advocated what would later become, in more modern terms, Learning by Doing. It is indeed one thing to receive information by listening, and yet another to put it into practice in real life. Learning by doing is a simple concept, emphasizing the need to apply experience and actions, rather than relying on pure theory.

This idea came to fruition both in the industrial age, in the automotive and aviation sectors, and in new educational methods at the start of the 20th century, as seen for example in the Montessori methodology. For Maria Montessori, abstract concepts are not absorbed: “what the hand does, the mind remembers”. A child must integrate new concepts in a tangible and real way, by touching, weighing, experiencing what he is taught. But it was not until the 1980s that Learning by Doing was implemented in business strategies, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, in particular by economists such as Kenneth Arrow and Robert Lucas.

In even more recent history, Lean Management has gained traction in organizations of all sizes, drawing on the daily practice of all employees to optimize resource-intensive processes and aim for optimal performance.

Learning by Doing: Why does it work?

When listening, the human brain can only maintain the optimal level of attention for up to 10 minutes. Beyond that, attention plummets, even if the subject is interesting. Reading, listening… they’re no match for doing.

Practice, rather than theory, invokes two key factors:

The numbers speak for themselves: we remember 75% of what we do, and just 5% of what we listen to. Thus how Learning by Doing allows the individual to really integrate their learning.

First and foremost, through repetition. There is no secret, no miracle: to memorize, you have to repeat. As with memorizing childhood poems or repeating theater lines until you know them by heart, the same goes for technical learning, with an additional bonus: repeating it multiple times in different ways and in different scenarios is even better! A practical exercise enables you to change your approach and review the concepts actively, trying to solve problems or respond to case studies.


Learning Pyramid


But Learning by Doing is also effective thanks to the mimicry that this method requires. It's scientifically proven: when we listen to a lesson or speech knowing that we are going to have to repeat the action right after, the brain prepares itself accordingly. Neuroscience has shown that the idea of immediate practice activates the same areas of the brain as if you were already practicing a skill. The result: increased and optimal attention.

Learning by Doing applied to digital

Digital online training is widely acclaimed today by professionals in a wide range of companies. What are they looking to achieve through these trainings? The acquisition of new skills directly applicable in their daily tasks, in dynamic formats, and at low cost.

If we take the example of software adoption, the theory will not be of much help in learning processes. Active practice enables us to adopt the right habits within the context of change management.

Learning by Doing in action with MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) make it possible to set up a whole range of educational devices and activities that encourage experimentation and practice. Far from the stereotype of passive courses scribbling notes in front of a screen, MOOCs today offer:


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Examples of Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing has many applications. To inspire you, here are a few:

The Lemon Learning method

Company training focuses mainly on digital support and good command of internal software tools. At Lemon Learning, we leverage interactive guides, directly integrated into the tools with which employees already work. Content is added to existing business software, to guide employees step by step towards good digital practices.


Lemon Learning Moodle


The Learning by Doing method is thus directly injected into users’ daily habits, who can activate the specific guide necessary for solving a problem or question in the moment. More autonomous and more efficient, your employees thus become the engine of change management in your company.

In the all-digital era, the approach of Learning by Doing is more practical than ever. By integrating training into the daily tasks of your employees, you optimize their performance, their autonomy, and their capacity for adoption of critical processes and tools.


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