Idea Learning

No two learners and no two clients are alike.


As practitioners who design workplace learning, we share a passion for changing the way people learn at work. You'll hear it a lot from us: No two learners and no two clients are alike.

Cafeteria Learning is just one example of how we push the boundaries in an industry that is used to "the way we've always done things." 

We created the Cafeteria Learning model as an alternative to “default training.” It’s a self-directed approach to instructional design that allows you to apply your own content (ingredients) to dozens of interchangeable activities (recipes), creating an informal classroom session that allows each participant to build a customized session (meal).

As our favorite neuroscientist Dr. John Medina writes in his book Brain Rules, “Brain scientists rarely have a conversation with teachers and business professionals, education majors and accountants, superintendents and CEOs. Unless you have a copy of The Journal of Neuroscience sitting on your coffee table, you’re out of the loop.”

So true. 

Rich opportunities exist to better connect brain research, the science of learning, and the practice of designing learning experiences for adults. 

“How could we make it easy for learning professionals to integrate these research findings into their work?” we began to wonder. 

  • We envisioned a world in which active, choice-based learning methods were the norm rather than the exception and in which lectures and PowerPoint slides were complementary, not central. 
  • We imagined taking the best of each discovery-based approach and rolling it together into one simple framework that could be used within business organizations around the world, from small startups to large corporations – sort of like a delicious roll of learner-centered sushi, you know? 

And that’s how Cafeteria Learning was born. It’s our answer to a world where passive, choiceless training has become the default.

We're so excited about it, we wrote the book

Fun fact: The word “lecture” is rooted in the Latin word legere, “to read.” In medieval universities, prior to the invention of mechanical printing, the professor would stand at the lectern and literally read aloud from handmade texts (Wood, 1989). The lecture was born because books were rare, valuable, and in short supply. It was born out of necessity, not because it’s actually an effective way to learn. 

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