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Gerry Griffin

Skill-Pill M-Learning

Company Director

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The 70 20 10 learning model has certainly gained significant traction in L&D circles in recent times. In fact in some quarters it's pursued with almost evangelical zeal. So what exactly is it and why the buzz surrounding it?

The model is based on research by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger for the Centre for Creative Leadership. It suggests employee development typically begins with realisation of need followed by a desire to act, and that a blend of different approaches that reinforce one another can produce a powerful learning effect.

The pair stated  "the odds are that development will be":

·         about 70% from experience and practice on the job

·         about 20% from other people – social or informal learning from conversations with colleagues and networking

·        about 10% from formal structured learning

That final percentage is interesting. This is where most learning investment goes. Looking at workplace learning from this perspective has led some L&D professionals to question the validity of their existing training programmes with their heavy reliance on the formal classroom element, which is costly and inflexible, and instead encourages them to explore new ways to foster informal and social learning in the workplace itself - learning that occurs in the right setting and context, and keeps pace with the speed of business.

By keeping people in the workflow and supporting them with a range of training materials here, proponents of 70 20 10 would argue that training interventions are faster, more effective and more efficient.

70 20 10 in practice

So how does that hold up in practice? Detractors would point to the lack of empirical research underpinning the model. They would also argue that the percentages are inaccurate and draw attention to the fact that a one size fits all model couldn't possibly be valid for different employees and organisations, and they have a point. A rookie employee is going to find themselves learning in more formal classroom situations than an old hand for example. And training in new technologies by its very nature has to be driven by formal learning to begin with.

But that rigid mindset misses the point. Think of it more as a loose framework and reference point, rather than try to unpick the numbers, and the benefits soon become apparent. Put simply it helps to change perception of what learning is and how so much learning can be informal and social. When employees realise that learning takes place all of the time, not just in the classroom, they are more engaged in the development process and their managers are more supportive. It might be an approach that's based on more hunch and gut feel rather than hard data, but it's still a compelling model for rethinking the way that learning is delivered and encouraged at work. And anyone still obsessing over percentages should consider this - we forget 50% of what we've learned in a hour without practice.

The role of mobile in implementing 70 20 10

The challenge facing any organisation looking to implement 70 20 10 is finding the right combination of tools, practices and techniques to make it work. The temptation is to segment mobile into the 20% section of the model but..............

Mobile offers you content and tools to allow your colleagues to anticipate and deal with the:

·         specific challenges they face in the workplace (70%)

·         to interact and share insights with each other (20%)

·         recall elements of the formal learning they have undergone (10%)

How? Well once their handset is activated as a training tool it becomes a powerful learning buddy that they carry with them at all times, which is what makes mobile such an exciting opportunity.

This is the catalyst for a different approach and mindset. This isn't learning that can be managed as such. Rather it's learning that needs to be facilitated and encouraged. Training professionals step back from allocating resources or prescribing training courses. Instead they work to encourage each individual employee to identify and take ownership of their own learning pathway.

70 20 10 encourages a fundamental shift towards self-directed on- the-job learning. An organisation can shake up workplace learning by making sure resources are available at the right time through the right channels. You don't get a learning organisation by pushing content at people. Learning organisations emerge when people pull learning down when they need it. This is most effective when they have problems to solve. And that's a very timely and elegant solution that mobile learning offers regardless of the learner's location.

Author Profile Picture
Gerry Griffin

Company Director

Read more from Gerry Griffin

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