Random Learning

Learning is one of my favorite activities.  When I’m exhausted and need a change I love to read business books or take online courses.  Yes, I do know that not everyone has the same reaction to learning opportunities that I do.  That’s what made me so interested in random learning.

As a manager I’ve had to curb my penchant for teaching and let my directs tell me where the teachable moments in the week are to be found.  Random learning happens when we become curious enough about something to ask questions or do research.  At this moment we are open to learning and more likely to retain new information.  Leveraging these random learning opportunities helps me keep the development moving forward while honoring each individual’s appetite.

Do you know what your learning style is?  You probably already have a pretty good idea.  If not, take this assessment to find out (Update: this is no longer free.  $8.95 as of 12/2011).  Here is another to help you differentiate between visual, auditory and kinesthetic (or tactile) learners.  Each will only take a few minutes and they are free.

From the perspective of random learning the internet is our friend.  Visual learners can easily find pages and pages of information on their chosen topic.  Auditory learners may prefer YouTube or iTunes for podcasts and videos.  For those who learn best by doing and touching (the kinesthetic learner) the internet can connect you will diagrams and charts that will give you just enough direction to allow you to start taking apart and reassembling whatever it is that has you curious.

Understanding the power of random learning really helps me appreciate the difficult role of the corporate trainer.  What they are trying to accomplish is diametrically opposed to the way most of the population wants to take in information.  Next time I’m in a class, I’m going to give the trainer extra respect and attention.  I may not even slip out to the washroom for a Blackberry fix.


5 Replies to “Random Learning”

  1. I’ve never heard of ‘random learning’ either, but it makes perfect sense. I get most excited when I’ve learned something randomly. For example, when I tried to find the name of the fragrant bush I walk by or the yellow spider that looks so cool or the cute turtle I sometimes see… Love the internet and random learning!


    1. Hi Anna, nice to see you here.

      You’ve got it exactly. When our curiosity is aroused we are most open to retaining something new. In this age of information overload, filtering is a key coping mechanism. It means that managers have to get really good at maximizing those fleeting teachable moments before they’re gone!


  2. Hi Susan
    Not heard of “Random learning” before but it sounds like a perfect definition of how bloggers learn.
    We all have to master the technical side of blogging – WordPress etc – we certainly have to ask lots of questions and do lots of research.
    Now I know what Random Learning is.


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