Instructional design

Using the 70:20:10 model to optimise learning


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Using the 70:20:10 model to optimise learning

As learning professionals, we know that learning does not stop when the learner walks away from the classroom (or closes the eLearning course). This continuation of learning is a natural process, as learners try to test the information they’ve learnt, and cement it into their long-term memory.

The 70:20:10 model represents the impact of learning outside of formal learning experiences, such as classroom courses, eLearning content or webinars. This model is championed by the best digital learning companies in the industry, including our friends at Docebo.


So, what is the 70:20:10 model?

70:20:10 Model. 10% = Formal Learning. 20% = Social Learning. 70% = On-the-job learning.


The 70:20:10 model is based on the principle that:

  • 70% of learning comes from ‘on-the-job’ experiences, experiment, and reflection
  • 20% of learning comes from social learning, i.e. working with others
  • 10% of learning comes from ‘formal learning’, i.e. planned learning solutions

So, as learning professionals and digital learning designers, is it our job to consider what happens away from the formal learning experience?

In short, yes, it is. There are many ways in which we, as digital learning professionals can influence both social and on-the-job learning; and ensure learning experiences continue long beyond the ‘classroom’.


Step 1: Formal learning

Formal learning is planned learning interventions. It’s your eLearning courses, company training days, and so on. But let’s be clear, just because this learning is ‘formal’ that doesn’t mean it should be boring. There are a whole host of ways to bring life to your digital learning design, including:


Step 2: Social learning

Psychologist Albert Bandura combined cognitive learning theory (that states learning is influenced by psychological factors) and behavioural learning theory (that states learning is based on responses to environmental stimuli) to create social learning.

Bandura’s social learning theory has four key requirements of learning:

  1. Observation
  2. Retention
  3. Reproduction
  4. Motivation

A great example of social learning is baseball. Even if you have never swung a baseball bat in your life, you’d probably know what to do with it if you were handed one and told to hit a ball. This is because you’ve observed the practice on the TV, you’ve retained the knowledge, you’re repeating what you’ve seen, and you’re motivated to do so (even if that motivation is just because you’ve been told to).

So how can we as digital learning professionals incorporate social learning into our strategies? Many people assume that social learning needs to involve face-to-face contact. However, our example above shows this is wrong. Social learning is key to the success of organisations, in adopting an agile approach to learning – reflected in a learning culture where employees are constantly encouraged to learn and to grow.



Your learning platform or LMS is the hub of all learning content in your organisation. So, it’s great place to start implementing social learning. Many LMS’ come with built in forums, allowing learning to communicate with each other and ask questions of their peers. This is a great way to facilitate social learning in your organisation, in the easiest, most cost-effective way.


Learner created content

Allowing your learners to create learning content is a great way to facilitate social learning. Empowering employees by letting them record demos, lectures, webinars, and calls is not only a great way to boost morale, but also to increase the learning culture in your organisation. In turn, your employees are learning from one another and increasing the efficiency of learning in your organisation.


Step 3: On-the-job learning

The final step of the 70:20:10 model is ‘on-the-job’ learning. This is where many learning designers shut off their minds and believe it’s not involved in their job, despite the model showing it is where most learning happens. However, these people are wrong. On-the-job learning should, at the very least, be considered by learning designers.

The 702010 Institute lists problem solving, challenging tasks, auditing/reviewing, innovation and reflection as examples of learning by working. These are all what we’d consider ‘independent’ learning, so what can a learning designer do to help?


Learning in the flow of work

In 2010 Gottfredson and Mosher identified five moments when people learn, these moments are when learners are:

  1. Learning something new
  2. Learning more on a topic they already have basic knowledge of
  3. Applying knowledge they’ve learnt
  4. Trying to solve a problem
  5. Trying to make a change

‘On-the-job’ learning will fall into two of these moments, when our learners are applying knowledge, or trying to solve a problem. As learning designers, we can create ‘just-in-time’ learning content to help in these moments.


Designing ‘just-in-time’ content

Just-in-time content does as it says on the tin. It teaches your learners the key facts they need to know in the exact moment of need. According to CEB research, 57% of employees expect learning to be ‘just-in-time’ or ‘as needed’.

Most just-in-time content has two key features:

  • It’s short and gets straight to the point
  • It’s available on a multitude of devices (especially mobile!)

The secret to effectively designing and planning just-in-time content is to map out your learner’s day-to-day roles, highlight stumbling blocks, and create content that directly helps them overcome these challenges.

To ensure effectiveness of content, make sure it is easily accessible to your learners. If they need to go through a multi-step log in process to get to the content or can only access it from their computers – it’ll put them off using it. This will encourage your learners to turn to public forums, such as YouTube or Google, which could lead to mistakes. Depending on the task at hand, these mistakes could be disastrous for your organisation. Learning platforms with a good mobile app and/single-sign-on are a great way to overcome this.


So, there you have it – a three step process to optimising your learning with the 70:20:10 model. If you’d like to know more about optimising your learning content, please get in touch, we’d love to help!