The importance of learning through doing and active interaction

27 Feb, 2014


Gabe Zichermann’s talk, “Changing the Game in Education” at TEDxBerlin highlights the importance of ‘doing’ for effective learning. Doing is in our nature and therefore the most effective way to learn. He attributes this to the fact that humans are the only animals to experience the release of dopamine through doing and achieving. The traditional learning method of sitting down and listening to a teacher is therefore “fundamentally opposed to our nature as doers”.

Zichermann sees the solution to passive learning in gamification. Using gamification in learning can increase fluid intelligence; in other words our ability to solve problems in new situations where we can’t apply existing knowledge. Research has shown that games can significantly increase learning and motivation. A study by Hope Lab and Stanford University showed that by actively playing the game Re-Mission, the motivation of cancer patients and their acquisition of cancer-related knowledge greatly increased.

The theory of Situated Cognition states that knowing is inseparable from doing. By engaging in active, experiential training, students become more motivated to learn and have a greater recall of their experience.


What does this mean for training?

Interaction and engagement are key. According to Zichermann, the three ‘F’s of gamification, namely Feedback, Friends and Fun are what make gamified learning so engaging and effective. Training programmes should be socially interactive, allowing students to learn from one another and interact with their teacher. Feedback allows students to continually improve and making training engaging means that students learn more quickly and enjoy learning. If learning by doing is the natural way for us to learn, our memory of training and our ability to perform related tasks in the future will improve.

As Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning shows, active experimentation and concrete experience lead to reflection on what we have learnt. This in turn affects our future decisions and actions as we learn from experience.


                                                                             Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning

Collaborative virtual environments provide an innovative platform for experiential learning from a practical and cost-effective perspective. Environments and scenarios can be replicated accurately using the latest 3D technology, which allows for a highly engaging and immersive learning experience. Students can interact with their environments and learn by ‘doing’.


Active learning, or ‘doing’, plays an important role in engaging and motivating students and optimising their learning. If you would like to find out more about what our virtual world training solutions can offer for your company, contact us today.