We live in an amazing social media world. Facebook, Twitter, and even Reddit as well as a host of other platforms have changed the way we communicate with friend and foe. Having said that, the concept of the “like” has also changed our perception of quality and impact. 

Think of a recent time you have been scrolling an article, comment thread, or social media post. You resonate with the content and look for the like button. In meetings, presentations, webinars, and workshops we sometimes approach the leader and say “I liked what you had to say” the equivalent of a thumbs up online or a smile emoji.

News flash, liking ain’t learning.

When we consider what we “Like” and why we “Upvote” we need to realize that we may just be confirming our own biases or at best have had a feel good moment with little lasting impact or change. And when we consider why and author, speaker, or trainer has offered their moment of service we can probably boil the motive down to an effort to persuade. To learn something. And at its core, to learn really means to change. 

To learn really means to change.

So, while “liking” something may be a step in the right direction, it is only superficial. To truly learn we must evaluate whether or not what we read or participated in actually taught us what was intended, that our behavior and paradigms changed, and that those changes produced a desirable result.  Let’s briefly look at each of those evaluative stages individually.

Stage 1 Reaction: Did the article, comment, discussion, meeting, webinar, presentation, training session, and so on produce a favorable and engaging outcome that was relevant to the participant’s life?

Stage 2 Learning: Did participants in the experience acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, or desired commitment intended?

Stage 3 Behavior: Did the participants apply what they learned during the experience into their every day life?

Stage 4 Results: Did that behavioral change produce favorable results in the life of the participant?

Now, these four stages of evaluation were coined by the theorist Donald L. Kirkpatrick and later expanded by James D. and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick. They provide an entire framework for looking at learning through these stages or levels, but for the purposes of this article it is simply important to note that a kudos, pat on the back, or the number of “likes” you receive don’t really tell us if what you intended by your effort was actually realized. 

The next time you receive a like or compliment from a participant in your training, presentation, or post consider asking them what they will do differently after having consumed your content. If you get a blank stair or no replies in the comment section you can probably safely assume that you have wasted everyone’s time.

Published by Jerrod Guddat

I love learning, collaboration, and improving workplace performance. You can usually find me reading a book or opposing points of view on the internet. I typically assume my ideas are flawed until proven otherwise. :-)

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