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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

Why Aren't There More Meaningful Learning Experiences for Professionals?

Last night, we had the last meeting of From Data to Design - Cohort 3, and as always, it was bittersweet seeing how much growth there had been while acknowledging that our time together was coming to an end.

The big takeaway I always try to leave for my cohorts: being a learning designer doesn't mean you are a course designer. We grappled with how to best serve people who say they don't care or don't want to learn.

And I told them the truth... I don't want to take courses for work either, unless I want to. I can't think of a forced learning experience that has been meaningful for me as a professional.

The reluctant learner is not the unique variable.

As learning designers-- naturally curious and motivated to learn it all-- we are.

So... what, as a learning designer, do you do with that information?

You motivate people to learn by meeting them on their terms.

Ask what motivates them, what inspires them, what makes them roll their eyes. Ask them what goals they have for themselves beyond the goals that have been set by the organization.

Create something that empowers them to meet those goals while also checking boxes.

Is there a specific formula for that?


There are guidelines for gathering data. There are guidelines for visual design. There are guidelines for what media you might use. But they are just guidelines. Learning design is DESIGN. It may be informed by science, but it's art.

That means, you're going to have to brainstorm and revise and wrestle with ideas until you get to the right one. You'll get to these solutions more quickly with more practice, but you do have to allow yourself to practice.

Why aren't there more meaningful experiences?

At the end of our live meeting, I asked, "What has been your most meaningful professional learning experience?"

2/3 of the students said From Data to Design was the most meaningful professional learning experience they had, that they hadn't had a meaningful experience before this course. And while it was a kind compliment and certainly made me happy to be offering something in which they found value, the truth is... it made me sad.

All of these years of learning as professionals and nothing felt meaningful until now?

What have we been doing, my L&D friends?

So, I issue this as a challenge to all of you reading. Think about your most meaningful professional learning experience. If you can think of one, I want you to start parsing out what made it meaningful and trying to bring those elements to your work.

If you can't, then I challenge you to start questioning what would make your learning experiences meaningful. I challenge you to start talking to more learners, to start getting to the heart of what makes for a meaningful professional learning experience.

And I invite you to share what you've learned (I'll share mine on the blog next week).


Want to start creating more meaningful learning? Start by asking the right questions.

Get the FREE Discovery Call Question List to guide your early efforts.

1 Comment

Sara Pehrsson
Sara Pehrsson
Dec 11, 2021

What a great challenge! It made me think way back to when I was getting my Masters. I loved those classes. The best I can come up with for a reason is that they made me feel like I was learning something (lots of somethings) that I could use to do important work. I could use what I was learning to help other people learn more conveniently (through asynchronous elearning) and I could empower others by helping them learn whatever THEY wanted to learn, to do THEIR important work. That sounds really circular, LOL. But I guess it comes down to relevance and action.

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