Research is conclusive on the benefits of adopting a 70:20:10 approach to learning, and many organisations have taken the leap in adopting this learning model. However, for many organisations it remains a minefield of how to actually move from traditional methods of training delivery to more on-the-job approaches. Committing to the “informal learning first” mindset is the first step. You may find your organisation is already using 70 and 20 approaches, without viewing them as learning activities.
Here are four examples of how we use these more informal approaches to learning:
1. Field worker internship:
70 – Learning on the job
Some decades ago apprenticeships were a common way for people to learn new skills; particularly in the areas of trades and construction. Even to this day, within the medical industry for example, junior doctors learn their ‘trade’ in hospitals before they are fully qualified practitioners. These are tried and tested learning models that work, and they are all about learning on the job.
Here at FACS all new frontline staff receive an initial 16-week program of education to prepare them for their roles (which is a combination of classroom learning, coaching and workplace activities). Upon completion of this initial training they enter an internship program; which lasts for the first twelve months of their employment. Throughout this 12-month period, milestones are identified of how individuals are expected to develop their skills as a practitioner.
The internship program is managed informally through regular meetings between employee and their line-supervisor. This process offers clear expectations of what is the field worker role, and easily enables managers to have honest conversations around individual development. Also, and possibly most importantly, this approach acknowledges that the completion of ‘training’ doesn’t mean an employee is competent to carry out their role; and that real learning happens back in the workplace.
2. Webinar Masterclass:
20 – Learning from others
70 – Reflecting on practice; just-in-time learning
Webinars, or virtual classrooms, are becoming a common medium for delivering learning. Due to the nature of this type of learning, sessions need to be short and to the point – certainly no longer than an hour. Even very busy people can find 30 minutes to an hour to participate in training, which makes this type of learning accessible to large numbers.
We have been using this mode of delivery recently for webinar masterclasses. For users of the reporting system DoCS Connect, it can be some time between receiving training (or even using the system) and needing to enter data; since reporting is required at six-month intervals. The masterclass is a short 30-minute session that focusses on these specific reporting requirements. These are interactive sessions that get to the point quickly and enable participants to ask questions directly to subject matter experts. This enables participants to learn from each other, to reflect on how they are using the system, and get refresher training on a task at the time the task needs to be completed.
3. Just-In-Time Learning:
70 – Accessing learning in the workplace, when required
Traditionally training is considered something that takes place in a classroom (away from the distractions of the workplace). However, we have long known that learners forget half of what they have been taught in a classroom, within an hour of receiving it; unless they have the opportunity to practice it within that hour. Making learning available in the workplace acknowledges that it is not possible to retain massive amounts of information, and that it is more effective to quickly access that information when it is required.
That is the approach taken in teaching staff how to use our complex database system. Initial training does not so much focus on how to carry out database tasks (although there is a little of that); but more how to access the information, when they need it, back in the workplace. Initial training focusses more on why tasks need to be completed in the system; the task specific (‘How’ information) is available as a web-based resource from their work station. This gives employees the confidence to know that the information will be available, in one location, whenever they need it.
20 – Learning from a manager
Most organisations have existing systems of supervision (between manager and employee) and we should not overlook the importance of this as an opportunity for effective informal learning. 20%of learning in the workplace takes place from informal discussions, and particularly from direct line managers.
This should lead us to re-examine how we conduct our systems of supervision, to ensure we are maximising its potential for informal learning. Do you discuss work performance? Are your systems of supervision designed to enhance employee performance? Receiving feedback on our work performance is a great way to learn and improve. Feedback should be direct, specific, honest and aimed at improving work performance.
I’m sure you can think of many other examples of organisational structures that fall into the ‘70’ and ‘20’ areas identified by this model. We would love to hear your experiences, examples and thoughts. Please share them.