Designing the Learning Mix That’s “Just Right”

By on November 17th, 2017 in Managed Learning Services

When Goldilocks tasted Papa Bear’s oatmeal, she thought it was too hot. Then Mama Bear’s oatmeal was too cold. But Baby Bear’s was just right. And so on and so forth. However, what if Little Red Riding Hood had come over instead? Could the children’s story have turned out differently? Which bowl of oatmeal would she have preferred?

As learning professionals, we are chefs in this story. We source the best ingredients and make the oatmeal (after a thorough analysis of the best flavors, consistency, and temperature, of course)! However, we have to cater to everyone, not just one central character. All of our learners have different preferences. How can we craft a solution that is “just right” for everyone’s palates?

What the story does right is that it tees up the same thing (oatmeal), but in three different ways. Goldilocks didn’t have to eat the oatmeal that burned her tongue – she found the one she preferred. Often in learning, we are force-feeding our learners with the same solution that we hope works for everyone. All that does is leave our learners disillusioned (with no new skills or knowledge) and our business partners annoyed (with no better business results).

Another parallel we can take from such a simple story is that each bowl of oatmeal – no matter the temperature – still had the same outcome: to satisfy appetite and fill one’s belly. When we design learning solutions, we have to keep in mind the same concept. It’s great to personalize learning, but we must do so in a way that still has the same result in mind. Just because learners prefer watching videos over participating in a role-play activity doesn’t mean that a video is the right solution. Watching videos and performing in an immersive activity are intended for different learning outcomes.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Provide options. But make sure they drive to the same result. Only then will you find your learners thinking that your solution is “just right.”


Britney Cole

Britney Cole

Britney is a learning leader with experience in organization development, human performance, and corporate learning and has worked remotely, managing virtual teams for more than a decade. Britney lives in Minnesota with her husband and three small children (ages 5, 7 and 8) where she keeps warm with plenty of blankets and cozy hats. She likes to talk, so you might see her at learning conferences as a speaker. Britney has provided consulting for clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, steel, chemical, media, technology, retail, manufacturing, and aerospace industries. She forms lasting partnerships with her clients helping them with learning design and architecture, content development, leadership and professional development, performance consulting, technology implementation, and change management. Most recently, she is helping pioneer new experiential learning methods and defining learning 3.0 taxonomy.
Britney Cole
2 comments on “Designing the Learning Mix That’s “Just Right”
  1. Scott Weersing says:

    Another insight from the story: Sometimes oatmeal is what the learner needs. Oatmeal is not exciting, bright, shiny or hi-tech, but still good for you.

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