Boston - Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning

Boston Common: Parkman Plaza - Learning (Photo by wallyg)

The new stuff you want to learn can be in a packaged variety of formats: webinars, podcasts, lectures, seminars, books, movies, infographics and so on.

But regardless of format, learning activity can be broadly grouped into three categories. None of these categories is inherently better than the other—in fact having a blend of them is considered wise.

However, some of them might be more appropriate at different times or in different situations.


  • Focused on the “how”
  • Typically step-by-step
  • Typically focused on a specific product or service

Whenever you find yourself learning “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3” then you are learning through training. Training deals with specific skills that are used in specific circumstances.

For example, how to update a Facebook page or how to use an iPad app or any of those sorts of things. There’s a very strong element of “how to” associated with training.


  • Focused on the “why”
  • Typically narrative or story-like in format
  • Typically focused on a situation, regardless of product or platform
  • Useful for identifying what kind of training may be necessary

Education changes the way you think. Education changes how you align your perception of the world with your experience of the world. Instead of “step 1, step 2, step 3,” education is focused on reasoning, understanding why things work a certain way or how things fit in a larger context.


  • Focused on “what happened”
  • Self-directed
  • Very specific to your situation

By observing how things work you learn new things all the time. For example, instead of training in how to use Twitter you could just use Twitter and see what happens. Experience is a useful way of learning what works for your unique situation.

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