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Opt In 2018: Tips to Extend the “Shelf-Life” of Your Learning

by Kelly McCormack

Learning begins and ends with you, the learner. A conference or workshop, like Opt In 2018, is just one step on your learning path. There are many things you can do to prepare to make the most of any learning experience in advance, as well as make connections to your work, extend your learning, and put what you learn into practice.

Reflection is Key
It is impossible to know everything. We need to remind ourselves of what we don’t know and intentionally seek new knowledge and understanding. Learning is an ongoing process of sense-making. Reflection enables us to make connections between our learning and our work.

Below are some actions and questions you can use before, during, and after an educational event to identify what information you are actually seeking:

Before During After
  • What issue to tackle is most on my mind right now?
  • What are the questions I should be asking about this issue?
  • What goal does my organization have that I would like to move forward?
  • What am I hoping to learn?
  • What knowledge and experience do I have to share with others?
  • Take 10 minutes to reflect independently.
  • What do I find I continue to think about?
  • What ideas have stuck with me throughout the day?
  • What are other people doing that would be cool to try?
  • Review notes
  • What 1-2 things will move my work forward?
  • Who did I hear from or connect with that I want to stay in touch with?
  • What progress have I made moving our organization’s goals forward?


Connect to Learn
Real learning and connections happen through peer exchange, when individuals have opportunities to express their knowledge, reactions and thoughts.

Opt In 2018 will highlight peer learning as a theme throughout the day, but especially in the afternoon Spark Talks. Use the suggestions below for before, during, and after an event to identify your own peer exchanges:

Before During After
  • Create a list of colleagues and professionals to connect with.
  • Organize a carpool with other attendees to keep the conversations going.
  • Talk to at least one person I don’t know and discuss something we both learned.
  • Share a challenge and workshop solutions with professionals and peers.
  • What opportunities are there for me to continue the learning with peers going forward?
  • How will I share what I learned with others in my organization?


Make the Most of Your Time
Research indicates that 90% of learning is lost within the first 30 days following training. Not on MANP’s watch! Here are some tips on how to retain more knowledge, extend and share your learning.

Before During After
  • Review the agenda and plan which sessions will provide the best learning to support my goal.
  • Coordinate with other team members to attend different sessions and gather more information to share with one another.
  • Find a quiet place to reflect on how to apply learnings.
  • Schedule a time to check-in with any team members and peers to discuss what we’ve learned.
  • Stay for the duration of the event. Leaving early interrupts my ability to full benefit from learning and reflection.
  • Within one week: Schedule an hour to review my notes, make a list of ideas or tasks I would like to move forward, and do additional reading on topics that interest me.
  • Within one month: Schedule an hour with my team, manager, or board to share what I learned.
  • Have a learning lunch with my team or peer group.
  • Make a coffee date with someone I met at the event.


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