Learning Methods

The Big Idea Behind 70:20:10

Woman using laptop computer, learning and writing notes while at a cafe.

Quite some time has passed since the 70:20:10 model was first discovered; however, it’s still used today as the optimal source of effectively training employees.  

What Is the 70:20:10 Learning Model? 

The 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development was developed in the 1990s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership. During this development process, about 200 executives were surveyed on their learning style and how they felt they learned best. The results were surprising, and they started to shift the way training was administered. This framework suggests that individuals obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities in their jobs through the following mixture of training types: 

  • 70% of learning is experiential
  • 20% of learning is peer-to-peer
  • This 90% is considered informal learning
  • 10% is formal learning (coursework and training)

Based on research conducted by Morgan McCall and colleagues at the Center for Creative Leadership, 70:20:10 describes the optimal sources of learning for successful managers. Originally, this model was used to develop leaders, proving that leaders don’t have to be born but can be made by teaching. Since the inception of this method, it has evolved into not only a way to train leaders, but instead employees at all levels.

As research has been done more recently, researchers are noticing a shift in what was 70:20:10 to a ratio more like 55:25:20, or whatever ratio works for your organization.

The numbers are not hard and fast. The main idea is that using a blend of learning modalities has proven more effective than using one method.

As a learning and development professional, you should be building a program that encourages multiple ways to learn.

Benefits of L&D’s 70:20:10 Learning Model

Why is this modality beneficial to learning and development?

Flexibility

The 70:20:10 model is a flexible guideline rather than a set formula, so organizations can adopt it in different ways. It can be used to achieve specific outcomes, like performance, or used strategically to improve professional development. Having a flexible method for training supports the needs of every employee in your organization because training is not one size fits all.

Engagement

Because the model promotes multiple learning styles, companies see an increase in employee engagement. eLearning Industry found that “learning through experience enables your employees to better understand what they need to do to complete their assigned tasks. Social learning enables them to interact with their peers so that they can learn from, and with them. Formal training, when planned, designed, and delivered correctly, encourages employees to learn so they can perform their role to the best of their ability. Supporting all of these different learning methods results in an engaged workforce and improves your organization’s productivity levels.”

Involvement

The social learning aspect of the model encourages collaboration between colleagues as well as managers. Employees are encouraged to share learning because learning through others creates a collaborative work environment. This involvement creates trust, respect, and a strong learning culture.

Methods to Put the 70:20:10 Learning Model to Use

Let’s dive deeper into each piece of this model and the methods you can use to implement each aspect into your training program.

Experiential Learning (70%)

Experiential learning, as you may guess, is learning by experience. Adults retain 80% of what they experience. This part of the model suggests you can’t learn something until you give it a try. So, what are some ways employees can learn experientially?

Interactive Video

This solution to experiential learning is taking over old, boring training that isn’t engaging. The use of interactive video can provide a real understanding of how to deal with a situation by presenting the learner with realistic choices to choose from. An example of when to use interactive video would be for compliance training.

View an example of an interactive video lesson from the BizLibrary Collection.

Gamification

You can’t force employees to learn, but you can certainly incentivize and encourage them to do so. Studies have shown that employees who were able to participate in learning games were more motivated to engage with and complete training than learners without gamification.

BizLibrary’s gamification features are designed to increase utilization and engagement with training content through social learning principles such as achievement rewards, friendly competition with leaderboards, progress tracking toward goals, and entertaining framing.

Learn more about best practices in gamification by listening to our podcast episode.

Social Learning (20%)

Informal learning is on the rise in workplaces, and social learning constitutes a large part of that. 

To solve problems, employees need answers in the moment, and peers and colleagues can quickly help find the information needed. Social learning is being used by forward-thinking organizations to create a collaborative learning environment that drives organizational performance and effectiveness of L&D activities.

Keep in mind that social learning doesn’t have to happen in person or within groups of people – with the technology available today, some of the most effective forms of social learning at work come through online observation and passive interactions.

Here are a few ways you can introduce social learning into your workplace.

Utilize Chat Platforms to Connect

Chat platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Chat encourage and support employees to effectively collaborate and accomplish goals. Establish threads within these platforms related to work, but also provide some unrelated to work. Team members can help each other with accomplishing business but can also hop into the non-work chat to share pictures or talk about what’s going on in their lives – because getting to know each other on a more personal level is important for better collaboration!

Social Features Within Learning Platforms

BizLibrary’s online employee learning solutions are built with the preferences of learners in mind. In addition to the thousands of training videos we have to offer, our platforms are loaded with social features.

Ratings: Employees can rate courses within the learning platform and see how other learners have rated each course.

Comments: Learners can share their thoughts on individual lessons and courses and see what others have said.

Sorting Content: Learners can search for topics in the content library and sort by rating or popularity to see lessons and courses that others recommend.

Sharing Videos: The share video feature easily allows employees to share video lessons through links, email, or Microsoft Teams.

Sharing Playlists: Managers can create playlists of training content for their team members, and individuals can create and share playlists with colleagues.

Poll Questions

Polls are incorporated into many interactive video lessons. In these polls, employees can engage with the topic and compare their responses to their colleagues.

Company Forums or Intranet

Having a forum or company intranet where employees can ask questions and get answers company-wide promotes a social culture and collaborative learning. This application can provide employees an opportunity to communicate interdepartmentally or even with the entire company. This is also a great place to provide recognition – perhaps for top learners or those that complete certifications.

To create a highly collaborative work environment, you need training technology that brings out the best in social learning. BizLibrary’s online learning solutions are built with peer-to-peer interaction at the forefront of the learning experience. With everything from playlist sharing, to gamification, to our Microsoft Teams integration, our solutions make it easy for your employees to work and learn together.  

Formal Learning (10%)

Formal learning is the base upon which informal learning is built. With strong formal learning, employees are sure to benefit from social and on-the-job training as well. Training that is delivered, managed, and tracked through a learning platform is a simplified way to administer formal training.

A variety of content can be used to facilitate formal learning, such as webinars, video lessons, video courses, eLearning, and eBooks.

Utilizing a Learning Platform to Monitor Performance

Using a learning platform to facilitate training using the model can help with efficiency and tracking. The BizLibrary learning platforms manage mandatory training, learning plans, and drive exploratory learning across your organization.

Keep a Pulse on Your Program Performance With Robust Reporting

Utilize our pre-built reports and dashboards for a quick snapshot or deeper analysis of the most pertinent KPIs to your program. With Learning Insights, administrators can compare internal team performance, and the performance of your organization to other benchmark and peer organizations, to see how you stack up.

Traditional classroom or instructor-led training is not enough anymore, and many organizations are realizing how modern learning solutions are a must-have for staying competitive. 

For an engaging and effective training program, you need quality content, a comprehensive learning management system, and a strategic training partner. This Ultimate Buyers Guide to Online Learning Solutions will teach you how to evaluate all three and make the best choice for online learning at your organization. 

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Caroline researches and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at L&D and HR issues and industry trends and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.