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Why the 70:20:10 model works for vocational and corporate learning

Digital learning, Learning environments

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Learning doesn’t just happen in classrooms! It is a continuous act that happens every day and stretches throughout our entire lives. Since more and more of today’s work is knowledge-based, we know that its impossible to separate learning from work.

Continuous learning at work is not only necessary, but vital to the development of the employee and the business. Company performance is improved through employees’ performance. A popular learning theory is based on the 70:20:10 model.

The 70:20:10 model and e-learning

Although there are reasonable criticisms against the 70:20:10  model, it nevertheless struck a chord with the learning and development world and has also attracted the attention of business people using the model as a strategy to improve workplace performance. It is based on three main sources of learning:

  • Experiential learning: 70% of learning happens through job-related experiences, like taking on new responsibilities, taking part in projects or working groups or using feedback to try a new approach to an old problem.
  • Social learning: 20% of learning happens through others, coworkers and managers alike, each time we seek or give feedback, attend one-to-one meetings or proactively learn through teams or professional networks.
  • Formal learning: 10% of learning happens through formal education programs, like seminars, training programs and online courses.

It might be surprising that the formal learning only covers 10% of the entire experience, but this is only natural as people absorb information more efficiently when they gain it from a practical context. That’s why learning from others and on-the-job circumstances seem to have a greater impact on employees.


How digital learning assists the 70:20:10 model

Formal learning is the foundation for effective training. The customised use of pictures, graphics, videos and HTML files of a digital learning approach contribute to making training as appealing as possible, thus setting the stage for an engaged audience.

Social learning happens naturally, as well as the use of technology at work. Just think how many times have you used email or messenger to chat with a co-worker in the same room!

A great digital learning environment can’t ignore the wide spread of social media and should provide engagement tools such as messaging, forums, group chat and even video webinars as part of a learning experience. Participants and trainers use these tools to communicate around their topic of interest without having to leave the learning environment.

Digital learning can also bridge the gap between formal education and experiential learning through interactive content and scenario-based resources. This allows participants to experiment with multiple solutions while they understand the underlying principles of the core topic.

The 70:20:10 model forces learning and development professionals to step into participant’s shoes more often and create digital resources that helps participants acquire the skills they need better and faster – consider the approach for your next learning implementation!

​A version of this post was originally published on the MATRIX Blog.