Learning Options: A Digital Smorgasbord

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Learning Options: A Digital Smorgasbord

School was frustrating for me, now I know why. I’m a discovery learner who likes to move. School forced us into a single path of learning – consume, regurgitate, and sit still. I moved a lot, was bored to death, and couldn’t really connect with how regurgitating content that you told me yesterday back to you today via a test proved anything.  I liked to question, argue, debate, and generally be a complete smart ass. Upon reflection, I’ve considered looking up my teachers on Facebook and apologizing.

We all learn differently. My frustration is that our corporate culture has taken up a similar one size fits all learning approach – create a pile of boring PowerPoint slides with the equivalent of a Tweet on each line (the bullet point), pack adults into a room, or online and download information in a linear fashion (one slide after another). How many things, other than a factory production process are linear? We figured out the concept of “ecosystem” a long time ago and virtually everything we engage in today is about relationships between things, yet we pour our information into slide decks with bullet points and believe that somehow the audience will grasp the big picture? What do you think the retention rate or more importantly the behavior change rate that results from this form of learning? I would venture to guess – abysmal.

I want people to learn more about the web, more about the technologies, and more about how to lead their businesses through this transition. My approach is what I would call conversational. This approach is fully supported by the new digital tools at our disposal: blogs, podcasts, videos, and social media. The blog is an informal conversation about topics, I begin the conversation with a post, others comment to either extend the discussion, disagree, agree or just ask more questions. Following a conversation is a very natural way for most of us to learn.

Last week I launched The Web and Print Podcast – this is a 10-15 minute audio conversation about web, technology, and printing topics. Listening to a conversation for some people is way more effective than reading a conversation. The audio format opens up additional options for consumption, I listen to podcasts and audio books while I run, walk the dog, or when I’m driving. I find a very different kind of learning happens when I listen to content, I’m more open to the big picture, less concerned about the little details.

Maybe your preference is face to face? I also see the advantage of removing yourself from your “office” for the specific purpose of learning. I encourage those of you running or managing print businesses to consider the upcoming Print CEO Forum, 2 days before Graph Expo in Chicago. A time for you to prioritize around learning and thinking strategically about the future of your business. Getting away provides the perspective required to think past the next operational emergency. You don’t have to be a CEO, all management levels in a print business are welcomed.

No matter what anyone says about all the changes taking place, especially in the information business which print plays a key role in – the key to your success is your openness to change and your willingness to learn. Take advantage of the options that today’s media tools offer. You can learn at virtually any time and any place. This is not a good time for the excuse, “I don’t have time to dedicate to learning.” There is nothing more critical, have you seen the stats that say something like 7 of 10 jobs that current high school kids will be competing for don’t exist yet? Well I would say that 5 of 10 businesses opearting as they are today won’t be necessary. Change is required.

Change is the only thing we can count on. Learning doesn’t have to be intimidating, this stuff isn’t as complicated or crazy as consultants want you to think it is. You have to dive in and at least understand the big picture yourself, then if you want to hire help, you’ll be able to choose more carefully.


  1. David Uno on September 19, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Business is constantly changing and we have to adapt to the changes. The changes in the market also presents opportunities for us to take advantage of.

  2. Jennifer Matt on September 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    David – I agree, I see more opportunity than threat. Businesses need help transitioning to the online world. I think printers should consciously make that transition themselves and then set themselves up as a resource to help other local businesses. This is a huge market.

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