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“blended learning” v “70:20:10”


What, in your professional opinion, is the difference?


3 Responses

  1. A world of difference.

    Blended Learning implies learning experiences that are designed by someone other than the individual learner. 'Blended' almost always falls into the '10' in the 70:20:10 model, although it may sometimes extend into the workplace (but usually still as '10').  If it does, it is invariably 'adding' learning into the workplace. That is, it provides a construct to use work for intentionally designed learning outcomes.

    70:20:10 is a model that extends a focus on development beyond directed learning and into the workplace, usually totally separate from any 'course', 'programme' or 'module'. 70:20:10 is predicated on the fact that most adult learning happens as part of the workflow – through rich and challenging experiences, practice, conversations and networks, and through reflection.

    Rarely does the L&D department even know the '70' and the '20' development activities are taking place – a conversation with colleagues in a team meeting or over a coffee, reflecting with a manager on a very difficult stage in a project, reaching out to someone in another part of the organisation for some informal mentoring etc. etc.


  2. Blended & 70-20-10

    You might find the attached link interesting and, hopefully, useful. It describes both concepts:

    Another description of 70-20-10 is by Don Clark:

    My professional opinion is that the 70:20:10 Model was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina.  The model suggests skills are not developed by some ad hoc process through simply doing the job, but requires planning and management if it is to provide the benefits envisaged by its creators. Hence, 70% of effort in planning informal learning as opposed to 10% effort for formal training! 

    As with any concept, it can be (and is) misinterpreted and misused. It is usually envisaged as “the way learning naturally happens” and it’s a short leap from here to “let’s concentrate on the 70% rather than just the 10% (and save some money on the training budget!)”. However, 70+20+10 = 100; by concentrating on the '70', the massive importance of the '10' is that it sets the foundations for developing informal learning by defining the 'good vs bad stuff'.

    Also, there is no empirical evidence that I'm aware of that defines how much learning occurs through formal or informal 'learning'; which makes the 70-20-10 concept as it is being applied something of a white elephant or bandwagon.


  3. Evidence for non-formal development

    Phil – I think your interpretation of the 70:20:10 model is rather 'interesting'. 

    It seems you are implying that informal learning needs to be planned.

    If you mean 'planned by someone else' (i.e. the L&D department), I find that bizarre. 'Informal' (I prefer to use the terms 'self-directed' and 'non-directed') learning is, by it's nature, self-planned or unplanned and has been shown to constitute the majority in terms of how high performers reach high levels. 

    That's what the (quite small: 180-or-so subjects) study that Morgan McCall and his colleagues found when they asked successful managers how they had reached their level of performance. This sample reported that 'around 70% came from tough jobs’; ‘around 20% came from others (mainly the boss)’; and ‘around 10% came from courses and reading'.  

    You seem to be saying something different altogether.

    You also state that 'there is no empirical evidence that I'm aware of that defines how much learning occurs through formal or informal learning'

    Well, research over the past 40 years has shown that informal and workplace learning is increasingly pervasive and central to learning in organisations. Studies have produced varying figures of the amount learned in these ways.

    Jay Cross lists a number of sources here

    If those don't satisfy, I suggest you read the research papers from the following:  Tough, (1971, 1979); Bruce, Aring, and Brand, (1998);  Zemke, 1985 and Verespej, 1998; Vader, (1998); Raybold, (2000); Dobbs, (2000);  Lloyd, (2000). 

    Each of these report learning in the workplace constituting >60% (and sometimes up to 85-90%) of overall learning.

    All this said, I don't know of any sensible person who would argue that 'the numbers' in the 70:20:10 model are some type of fixed ratio. 70:20:10 has come to be used as a reference model or framework, not a mantra or ‘rule’. It references the fact that experiential learning and learning through others are major channels.  Equally, no one in his or her right mind would suggest that ‘formal’ learning is unimportant. When done well, formal instruction is often critical for people to build core knowledge and skills.

    You seem to be arguing that the '10' – formal instruction and provision of designed learning – constitutes the major way people in work learn.  The evidence is counter to this. Of course some L&D and HR professionals find this a challenge. Others are extending their views and embracing (and sometimes 'nudging') the informal learning that's always happening so as to improve overall learning, development and performance in their organisations.

    Of course, I may have read more into your posting than you intended….

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