4 Ways The 85 Percent Rule Can Benefit Corporate Training

The 85 Percent Rule: From Law Enforcement Το eLearning

So, what is the 85 Percent Rule and how can it benefit the training of a multigenerational workforce?

In the modern workplace, opportunity often disguises itself as a challenge. One of the greatest challenges modern leaders discuss is managing the multigenerational workforce. From Baby Boomers to Millennials, Gen Xers to the emerging Generation Y, it can seem impossible to cultivate a workforce that works, thinks, and communicates as a unified team. Even designing and deploying an eLearning program can get hung up on all sorts of petty differences and preferences of these various age groups.

But as an emerging educational principle in law enforcement demonstrates, this apparent challenge can actually become a powerful strength, if approached in the right way.

For law enforcement, that approach has been dubbed the 85 Percent Rule, and it has some valuable implications for eLearning and professional training in any industry.

The 85 Percent Rule used by law enforcement trainers simply means that the standard lecture format is replaced with a more informal, question and answer discourse in which the instructor asks leading questions to get students to work through material. In effect, 15 percent of course material is delivered through instruction or reading, while the remaining 85 percent is covered organically through the questions, conversations, and cross examination between students and their instructor.

Let us see how this can help turn the multigenerational workforce from a challenge into an opportunity.

1. Peer-sourced solutions. 

Using this system decentralizes instruction, and compels students to look to one another for insight, ideas, and answers. Besides fostering collaboration, it enables the members of different generations to demonstrate how they bring value to different problems, and the various ways they might apply their experience or utilize technology.

Research has shown that different generations not only gravitate toward different tools and technologies according to their own preferences and comfort level. They actually use these tools differently. In the context of a learning environment, having the course material ask leading questions or presenting problems to the group can encourage them to find more than one way to move forward, and then discuss the merits of each approach.

This, in turn, not only helps students gravitate toward best practices on their own (as opposed to simply following orders), but can drive collective progression through an eLearning course.

2. Making technology accessible. 

eLearning is a powerful platform for training all ages, but not all ages will necessarily come willingly or enthusiastically to something unfamiliar. The trick is to incorporate familiar elements to ease the transition. Nothing makes eLearning accessible to the tech-impaired like having it facilitate organic, live interactions.

The 85 Percent Rule leaves some room for innovative approaches to content and instruction, but the overwhelming majority of time is meant to be spent in guided discourse. For even the most reluctant newcomers to eLearning (or any other type of technology), this helps make the process feel more familiar. Ultimately, they all become students collectively engaged in debate, discussion, problem-solving, and cooperative learning.

In a professional training environment, conversation helps contextualize lessons. One of the primary functions of even the most cutting edge technology is to enable communication. For all the bells and whistles now available to course designers and instructors, from gamification to knowledge mapping, it is still hard to beat the simplicity of conversation.

3. Mentorship spreads ideas, skills, and utilization. 

Surveys show that Millennials value learning and training more than money or flexibility. Having the chance to learn from older workers will engage them in courses and their work. Likewise, being able to act as mentors to younger workers can be a great way for older team members to demonstrate their continued relevance and value, as well as picking up a thing or two from their mentees.

Turning eLearning courses into active discussions empowers learners of all ages to become mentors. They may show themselves to be knowledgeable or helpful with respect to a specific element of the course, the material, or even the tools implicated in the platform. With the right line of questions, everyone should have the opportunity to assert their expertise and demonstrate their value as members of the team.

This kind of hybrid environment -where the online platform ignites conversation that bleeds into “real life” or the office where your team is headquartered- is fertile ground for turning students into mentors. Let them use eLearning tools to support their social learning, rather than as an anchor tying them to a discrete learning space, pace, and system. Let their discussions start as part of the course, then continue as an organic interest. Most importantly, highlight those students who demonstrate advanced knowledge or understanding, and ensure they are recognized by their peers as resources. Learning shouldn’t end when the course is over.

4. Building culture across generational lines. 

Conversation is engaging. People have a natural interest in telling and hearing stories, and this kind of devil’s advocate style of question and answer-based instruction lends itself to storytelling.

Storytelling and friendly discourse facilitated through your eLearning courses can be team-building activities. Members of different generations get the opportunity to share their personal experiences, views, and concerns in their own voices. Individual narratives get influenced by those of the others listening and participating in the conversation. The participation-based format encourages everyone to approach their jobs, their roles, and their challenges at work collaboratively, just as they did their learning experience.

A strong company culture lends itself to greater employee engagement, pride in work, and superior outcomes. By making learning into a social, experiential process in which everyone is a participant and at times a leader of the conversation, culture-building becomes synonymous with learning.

Only Human After All

eLearning is still relatively new, full of innovations and experimental approaches to knowledge-building. It can be easy to get overcome with enthusiasm for whatever is newest, shiniest, or sounds the most like a gateway to the future. Ultimately, though, the best tools and techniques may just be good old fashioned human qualities, scaled and distributed through your eLearning platform. Conversation, knowledge exchange, and social activities are time-tested and keep even the most sophisticated learning experience grounded in human qualities.

Most importantly, the 85 Percent Rule values every student by making them the teachers and leaders of their experiences. With the right attitude and a strategic approach to questioning and stimulating the class, rote instruction and fact absorption can be replaced with an engaged, enthusiastic group approach.

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