Zombies Vs Mutants! Which Type of Learner Are You?

Inside each of us are two diametrically opposed creatures trying to escape: a Zombie Learner and a Mutant Learner.

And no, I’m not talking about the plot of this summer’s next blockbuster. I’m talking about you. And me. And Bob from accounting. And lil Joey down the street. We all have the potential to be either a Zombie Learner or a Mutant Learner. 

Zombie Learners are half alive, morbidly going through the motions day in and day out. They do just enough to get by in their jobs and personal lives, only learning when forced to attend in-person training or when regulations and law mandates it. 

Mutant Learners, on the other hand, are rapidly adapting, evolving, and changing to effectively harness today’s learning innovations. They are actively looking for new information and contributing and sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world. 

To survive in today’s constantly shifting and changing workplace and world, you need to kill your inner zombie and embrace your inner mutant.

But first, to learn how Mutant Learning occurs, you need to understand the Five Links of Mutant Learning.

The 5 Links of Mutant Learning

The 5 Links of Mutant Learning model is made up of two axes. 


Active = mildly engaged in learning, occasionally sharing knowledge

Dynamic = vigorously engaged, seeking answers, regularly helping others find answers


Consumer = primarily learning from others’ knowledge

Contributor = focused on creating and sharing knowledge with others

The vertical axis on this model essentially represents your activity rate as a learner—think of it as your learning pulse rate. 

The horizontal axis indicates what role you play in the learning economy. Are you actively adding value by creating and contributing your knowledge? Or do you consume and learn from the knowledge that others have shared? 

Both roles are acceptable because one cannot exist without the other—knowledge must be contributed or produced before it can be consumed.

Now let’s dive into the 5 Links of Mutant Learners—also known as the learning styles of people in today’s modern learning era.

The 5 Links of Mutant Learners

  1. Initiator
  2. Creator
  3. Learner
  4. Wanderer 
  5. Zombie

The Initiator

This learner initiates a conversation by asking, “Do you know?” They’re dynamic consumers of knowledge. These are the individuals asking questions and crowdsourcing information on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or the Rockstars Community. They instigate, prod, stir, and then wait to see what answers they get.

The Creator

This learner says, “I will do it.” They’re dynamic contributors of knowledge. They know the answer to the Initiator’s questions, and can confidently articulate their response—whether that’s in the form of a LinkedIn comment, a full blog article explanation, or community post. Without these dynamic contributors, the continual growth and value of online communities would die.

The Learner

This learner thinks, “I want to know.” They’re active consumers. This is how most of us learn every day. We seek knowledge—finding it, reading it, and internalizing it. Over the years, the means through which we find this knowledge have increased and dramatically changed due to technological, mobile, and wireless advances.

The Wanderer

This learner says, “Look what I found.” They’re someone who stumbles upon an interesting source of knowledge somewhere and then shares it on social media. While they might not have been trying to learn something new, their online activity led them to learn something of value, which they then wanted to share with others. 

The Zombie

And that brings us to the Zombie. A Zombie Learner says, “I don’t care.” They’re not producing or consuming—they’re decomposing. They have no desire to explore and spend little to no effort learning new things or exploring new technologies of learning.

Most people are a mix of the first four learning links. But to be a true Mutant Learner, you must take your newly acquired knowledge and transform yourself into an Initiator or Creator. 

How do you do this? You need to build a Mutant Learning Lab

What is a Mutant Learning Lab™?

A Mutant Learning Lab is a customized learning lab where you access, organize, and share relevant learning fragments for your personal learning needs. 

So, what does a working Mutant Learning Lab look like? 

Just like a science lab doesn’t have just one piece of equipment, the Mutant Learning Lab has many digital tools, such as blogs, groups, and online communities, to equip you with everything you need to be a Mutant Learner.

Whatever tool (or tools) you choose for your Mutant Learning Lab, ensure that they meet the following criteria:

  • Helps you focus on a topic of interest
  • Can be customized to your learning needs
  • Connects to relevant social media, research, and other relevant learning sites in one place (if possible)
  • Aggregates, organizes, and provides accessibility to learning fragments
  • Enables you to share knowledge with others

Your Mutant Learning Lab requires dedication to an identified course of study. Before you start diving into the steps to build your lab, take a moment to identify what skills you would like to learn or develop.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll outline the 5 steps to building a Mutant Learning Lab.

Download the full eBook ​​Mutant Learning: How to Develop a Social Learning Lab here.