Attention learning professionals: Let’s fight consumerism!

Author: Emma Weber


Learning transfer makes learning meaningful.

But shouldn’t all learning be meaningful?

It begs the question, why do we use the word learning transfer, and not just learning? After all, surely learning has failed if it is not transferred and creating results in the workplace.

The application of learning is key. Without it, learning is wasted.

With most organisations adopting some form of 70:20:10 model, and recognition that on the job learning is becoming equally as important as formal learning – we are entering and ongoing learning lifecycle where people are learning all the time.

The danger is with this evolving 24/7 learning culture, is that we are becoming over consumers. With Google or Bing at our fingertips – there’s no end to the chasm of learning that awaits us online.

As Deloitte famously showed us all with their Meet the Modern Learner infographic – today’s employees are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient.

In this age of consumerism, with ever-changing digital technologies and an attention span that is reducing below goldfish standards – as learning professionals it is imperative that we make sure learning doesn’t go down the consumption route.

So what can you do to avoid learning consumerism?

Step 1: Be a conscious learner

This means not just learning, but making a conscious commitment to implement what you learn.

The first stage of this is to make a conscious decision on what you are going to take action on from the learning, with an action plan.

People can be cynical of action plans if they have experienced them as merely a tick box exercise in the past. But action planning is an essential part of learning transfer. View the action plan as the source document that will kick off the change process for each individual.

Even if you’re working with online learning modules – don’t keep consumerism alive with module after module of information – think about how and what this learning can be applied in the real world.

Remember It’s not the action plan that creates the result – it’s what you do with the action plan that creates the results – see step 2!

Step 2: Reflect

Much research has shown that reflection can facilitate ongoing learning and also provide a structure to make sense of learning so that it can be embedded into real change.

Harvard Business Review are big supporters of reflection – and recently talked about how reflecting on learning and experience is in fact far more influential than learning from experience.

The most effective reflection for learning transfer is specific, structured and accountable. Get learners to focus on what specifically someone will put into place after a learning event.

Add structure with a scoring system on a scale of 1-10 of where they were and where they’ve got to, and use that to generate what the gaps are and next steps.

Work to create a strong culture of self accountability. Create this by holding learners accountable to themselves or to others for the actions they’re going to take.

Reflection could involve keeping a daily learning journal, or buddying up with a trusted colleague for a five minute self-review. Use the action plan to keep track and use it as a basis for the conversation.

You can read more on reflection tools to boost your learning here.

Step 3: Repeat

Review your progress, get feedback and insights and make conscious decisions as to where to go from here.

Expand the continuous learning lifecycle with Action, Reflect, Repeat.


Through being a conscious learning consumer – the power is in your hands.