Learning Events vs. Meetings, What’s the Difference?

At GLP we see “learning events” and “meetings” as distinct and unique gatherings. The principles and practices of a learning-centered approach apply to both, however, there are also differences that need to be considered.

The main difference:

In learning events, we determine what learners want or need to learn that is new. As designers of these events, it is our responsibility to design a session to ensure this desired content is learned so there is the possibility of real change or impact as a result.

In meetings, we determine what work participants want or need to accomplish/achieve together in the available time. It is our responsibility to design a session that does this so we can further work or action.

Here is the tricky bit… Meetings can have multiple purposes. They can be:

    • to decide
    • to work
    • to offer input
    • to review
    • to plan
    • to build a sense of team

As well, it is true that we often need to learn something in a meeting to be able to work on something, offer input, or make a decision. For this reason, meetings can include the achievement: TO LEARN [a model, system, tool, policy, framework, process, etc.].

Here are criteria for deciding if a meeting should include a learning component. Is there something the group needs to learn in order to:

    • decide (we need to learn how our competitor does it)
    • work (we need to learn a helpful framework)
    • offer input (we need to learn a new feedback model)
    • review (we need to learn three items to be especially attentive to)
    • plan (we need to learn the 4-step process that will be used)
    • build a sense of team (we need to know why this is needed at this time)

If the answer is Yes, then we may want to design a mini-learning event within the meeting. It can follow a normal sequence for learning and include connections to previous knowledge or experience with the topic as well as an opportunity to apply the new knowledge and a next step “away” from the meeting.

Here is an example of a learning event within a GLP meeting to review a process for feedback.

How do you decide if a meeting should include a learning component?


Jeanette Romkema is GLP Senior Partner, Knowledge Broker, as well as Partnerships & Network Leader. Here are more GLP blogs by Jeanette.

Rachel Nicolosi is a GLP Partner and Communications Leader. Here are other GLP blog posts by Rachel.

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