I’ll admit it, one of my favorite reasons for coming to work are the snacks and drinks (no offense to my colleagues).

Me waiting impatiently for the cold brew to filter.

Me waiting impatiently for the cold brew to filter.

More accurately, I’m obsessed with our cold brew coffee, religiously pouring myself a cup every day at 1pm. My mid-day cold brew has become such a ritual, I find myself craving cold brew on the weekends, desperately searching for a coffee shop to satisfy my addiction.

This pattern of behavior had to stop.  I did the math, and over the course of my lifetime, I would spend $25,000 on weekend cold brew.  I needed to learn to  make my own.

Ever thoughtful, my wife gave me a cold brew kit to start this learning journey, and through this process, I’ve gleaned some lessons that can be applied to practices in designing learning experiences.

1. Learning objectives should be valuable, transferable skills

Cold brew creation is valuable to me. Once I learn to make it, I’m going to use this skill for the rest of my life.  Until someone tells me I need to slow down my caffeine consumption for health risks, there will be cold brew in my fridge. Forever.

The skills required to make cold brew (patience, creativity, research) can also transfer to other contexts like work and personal relationships.

Application in Learning Design: When designing a learning experience, it’s important to assess whether or not your learning objective is something viewed as truly valuable to your learners.  Will they continue to use this skill beyond the course or workshop? Do they see this skill as essential not only for work but for life? Are the skills you are teaching easily transferred/applied to new contexts?

In my case, making cold brew has become essential to my caffeine addiction happiness and will help me save a lot of money over time.

2. Provide a variety of expert advice

My wife got the idea of a cold brew kit from my friend, who had started brewing his own coffee a few months ago.  He continues to offer new ideas to make the cold brew even better by adding ingredients like mint or vanilla, which inspires me to be more creative with the creation of my own cold brew.  One day, I imagine we’ll compete in a cold brew competition to see whose brew is the truest.

Application in Learning Design: When designing a learning experience, ensure that you include a variety of experts who can offer different perspectives and ideas. With a diversity of expert advice comes a greater depth of understanding of the skill or topic.

3. Allow your learners to experiment

My first batch was a mess.  While the instructions recommended a 12-14 hour soaking time, I left the coffee in for 18 hours.  I paid the price, producing an over-caffeinated batch that was undrinkable. I’ve learned my lesson, and my next batch will surely spend less time soaking.

Application in Learning Design: People can learn from their mistakes. Create a culture in your learning experiences that make it okay to fail, as long as you can glean insights from your experiences.