I was exploring the Masie’s Learning 2014 Conference website and came across a phrase that I had never seen before but knew exactly what it meant. Our team has had a few discussions on this exact topic, but we did not have a name for it. “Learning Interruptus,” what a perfect name!

For years, people have attended and completed courses that are one or more days long. But busy schedules make it more and more difficult for people to attend such lengthy courses. Although online courses and webinars offer opportunities to learn that are more compressed and controllable, many people start a course but never complete it because of constant interruptions during their work days.

Elliott Masie has defined a few types of Learning Interruptus:

  • Distraction and Work Conflicts: You start to watch a powerful 18 minute TED Talk about leadership styles. The phone rings, a colleague drops by, or your mind wanders to other projects. So you pause the TED Video, hoping to return, but you don’t. Learning Interruptus.
  • Multitasking Becomes Shifting: You start a webinar, prepared to focus on the designated topic. Multitasking takes over and soon you’re reading your email, editing documents, or eating lunch while the webinar continues. You could always go back and watch it again as a streamed segment, but you don’t. Learning Interruptus.
  • Come Back Next Week, Please!: You sign up for an eight-week online course. The first and second weeks are good, efficient, and interesting. By the third week, your attention and priorities shift. So the eight-week program stops at week two. Why didn’t you finish? Learning Interruptus.

I know I have “been there and done that” with at least one of these types. I am sure most of you can relate to these as well. What will the future of workplace learning look like? Only time will tell. I know it has been on all of our minds here at Learning Solutions, and we are continuously working to adjust our approaches and methodologies to make sure our employees are given the chance to learn.