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3 learning models for business in the digital age

by Susan Dumas - June 6, 2018

Both our personal and professional lives have been transformed since the internet became this incredible, collaborative space with the dawning of Web 2.0 and now Web 3.0.  How we train and support our workforce has also changed beyond all recognition. But not for all. Some organisations remain digitally untransformed – so it is worth stepping back and examining specific learning models that could help.

New learning for the new digital age

Once upon a time, training was one-dimensional and consisted only of formal, classroom-based learning. The new era of work and how we support staff is all about collaboration and the breaking down of barriers through a process of customisation which acknowledges the importance of the individual.


No matter which industry we look at, the one-size-fits-all approach no longer applies. Similarly, consumers of products and services have lots of options as to how to consume. Pre-internet choicelessness is very much a thing of the past.


Yet some of us are still applying these industrial age methods to our existing workplace learning!
Preparing for digital transformation infographic


Three models for workplace learning

70-20-10 framework and informal learning

In the modern workplace, learning is a normal ongoing business requirement rather than a problem to be solved. As adults, we can address much of what we need to learn ourselves – in the modern age, this is called self-directed learning. The best organisations provide comprehensive access to high-quality digital learning resources. These encourage learning at the point of need, or learning in the workflow, which means that your staff have the resources to keep working as they learn.

The so-called ‘70-20-10’ framework refers to the mix or blend of learning activities that best supports learning in the workplace. According to this theory,

  • 70% of the time, we learn informally through experience – learning by doing
  • 20% of the time, we learn from colleagues or our managers – collaborative learning
  • 10% of the time, we learn on formally organised courses or events – formal learning

Even if these figures seem suspiciously rounded to be based on statistical evidence, there is no doubt that most organisations have focused on formal learning (the 10%) to the detriment of other ways in which staff learn. This has meant that both the organisation and the employee have been losing out. The cost and time it takes to plan and organise courses – the travel involved, the logistics, the time away from work: these all add up to a very inflexible way of learning.

If you think about how we learn outside of the workplace – we don’t go on a course to learn something new!


If you’re in L&D, you should be sensing the opportunity here. For continuous learning to be effective, you need to embed it in the workflow. Corporate learning departments need to place learning where where teams are already collaborating. Everyone’s already in Slack. That’s where learning should be hanging out too.

Stephen Walsh, Anders Pink

Most organisations have now re-invented their learning around informal learning experiences and collaborative learning from peers and managers. They use learning tools and learning technologies to support this and they often reuse existing, easily available digital content. Content curation and social learning are the buzzwords here.

Here’s an example from the Anders Pink content curation tool, using the easily accessible social messaging app – Slack.

Some organisations invested heavily in what were called ‘Corporate Social Networks’ – but simple apps like Slack are much more agile and popular. This is further proof of the need for change in this digital age.

If your organisation doesn’t have a Slack channel, or a WhatsApp group – you could be missing out!


2. Adaptive learning, learner choice and personalisation

The rise of the modern learning experience platform now provides a choice in how people learn. These intelligent learning platforms have become the Netflix of workplace training. You can create playlists, set your learning preferences and view content in a range of different formats – including video, audio, online books and practical interactive exercises. Percipio - shown here, is one of the new breed of intelligent learning experience platforms. 


Percipio the intelligent learning platform


Adaptive learning is also gaining traction due to the increasing advances and application of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Adaptive learning means that, as you master a topic, the content adapts and challenges you more.  Chatbots for learning are growing in use and sophistication, as are algorithms to help speed up learning. 

3. Microlearning, spaced learning and spaced repetition

Spaced practice is a learning technique rather than a model, but it is also useful to be aware of. Technology helps here, as many new apps and online learning platforms include this type of learning technique. It also follows the shift in workplace learning trends over the past few years – most businesses and L&D teams are embracing the science of learning to get ahead.

Learning that is ‘spaced’ is delivered in small, manageable portions over time. Ideally, it should gradually increase in difficulty, challenging the learner to acquire mastery. Microlearning is popular because we prefer to take in information in small chunks. The key to good microlearning is to build towards something – for example, mastering a complex skill in a planned way.

Online platforms such as Facebook or Twitter and apps such as Angry Birds have built-in hooks to get you hooked! Likewise, the best online learning platforms use psychological techniques to keep your staff engaged and learning.

Be a catalyst for digital transformation

Most organisations are reinventing how they train, using models like 70-20-10, personalisation, choice and spaced learning to support their staff at the point of need. Workplace learning is changing from just-in-case to just-in-time. Don’t be left behind! Digital transformation is here to stay. 

Preparing for digital transformation infographic


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