Aside from what you’re learning from this website, what was the last thing you learned that was relevant to your job? How did you learn it? Chances are that you learned it from actually doing your job, perhaps completing some challenging task or just doing something you hadn’t done before. It’s possible you also learned from somebody else, and even less likely the source of your learning was a formal training course. This is the 70:20:10 learning theory.

70:20:10 learning theory:

  • 70% of what we learn is through our workplace challenges and experiences.
  • 20% of what we learn is through contact with other people, either face to face or online.
  • 10% of what we learn is through formal training programmes and structured content.

Those numbers come from one study group’s research into successful managers may be not precisely match how learning happens in your organization’s workforce, but the exact numbers aren’t important. The point is that most learning happens through doing our jobs, some happens through social interactions and a little happens through formal training.

xAPI and the 90%

Older learning specifications like SCORM focused very much on formal training, and specifically online formal training, so that’s even less than 10%. They painted a very limited picture of the learner. By contrast, xAPI is being used to track and support all of the learners learning experiences, including social interactions and on the job development.

Social and informal learning by definition can’t be directed and forced; they happen naturally in our organizations at the point of need. They can be supported and encouraged though, and that’s where applications and initiatives powered by xAPI come in. These applications both facilitate work-based and social learning, and create a record of these experiences.

When these social and work-based learning experiences are recorded via xAPI, we see the following benefits:

  • The learner has a full record of their learner experiences that they can refer back to and be recognised for. They can avoid having to complete formal training in areas where they have learned informally.
  • The organization gets a much clearer picture of where learning is taken place and where the gaps really are.
  • The organization can evaluate the impact of social and workplace learning at higher levels of evaluation for different areas of learning. Areas of positive learning can be encouraged and negative learning (where people are learning from one another to do the wrong thing) can be tackled.
  • Social and work-based learning can be more easily blended into formal training programs. There doesn’t need to be a sharp boundary between the two.

There are several products that support social learning on the Adopters List.

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