3 Steps To Help You Get Informal With Your LMS

3 Steps To Help You Get Informal With Your LMS
Summary: The fact that a lot of learning takes place on-the-job through interactions with peers and managers doesn't surprise anyone. Frankly, it jives with most of our own experiences. But what's the role of Learning and Development in the context of these experiences?

Let's Get Informal With Your LMS: 3 Steps To Follow

Over the past few years, informal learning has been a hot topic. If you don’t believe me, Google "70:20:10", and you’ll see 838,000 results! I don’t think the fact that a lot of learning takes place on-the-job through interactions with peers, and managers surprise anyone. Frankly, it jives with most of our own experiences.

To my mind, where this discussion has fallen short is with practical insight on what is the role of Learning and Development in the context of these experiences. The following article explores 3 practical steps you can take to extend learning beyond the "classroom" to better engage learners, and improve transfer to the job.

1. Make It Real

Research by CEB [1] tells us that a shockingly low 37% of learning is applied on the job within 6 months. If our learners aren’t taking what we teach back to their job, we really need to ask, "What’s the point?". There is a simple answer. In most training programs, after the formal learning, we just cross our fingers, and hope that learners apply what they learned back on the job. What if we made application part of the learning experience?

We all know how awkward it can be to try out new skills. You may not be very good at them yet. You may stumble over the process, or miss a step. Someone may contradict what you were taught, calling it into question. You may forget a key concept. You may even doubt yourself, and get frustrated along the way.

A critical step in developing a new skill to proficiency is taking the time for deliberate practice. Deliberate practice means intentionally putting new skills to use on the job via a highly structured activity with the specific goal of improving performance. We’re not leaving anything to chance with this model; we’re not just hoping people will apply their new skills, we’re making sure they practice these new skills for better transfer back to the job—and ultimately, create better outcomes.

For those of us that design learning experiences, we should design the opportunity for deliberate practice into our programs. We need to provide the structure for deliberate practice and -more importantly- provide the structure for debriefing afterward where the participant can reflect on, and learn from the experience.

In Kineo’s ManagementPlus program, which is designed to build foundational management skills of front-line managers, we leverage Totara LMS to provide the scaffolding for on-the-job application (see below). A step-by-guide is provided to help the learner prepare for their coaching conversation. Then, a form is used to facilitate self-reflection on how the conversation went.


2. Get Social

In a 2017 Kineo Survey on Social Learning, 70% of people state that their first resource, when looking to solve a problem, is immediate colleagues, and their own personal professional network. There’s just something about batting ideas back and forth with colleagues that makes an idea concrete. We naturally find ourselves sharing and hearing stories, and about how each of us relates to an idea, and this makes learning content more relevant, and in turn gets us engaged and one step closer to putting it into practice.

As Instructional Designers, many of us already create the context for Social Learning by doing simple things like extending breaks during a day-long workshop, or scheduling follow-on lunch and learns. Of course, in today’s technology-driven world, there’s no shortage of solutions to support social collaboration. This includes LMS’s like Totara, Yammer, Slack, and LinkedIn for public connections.

3. Observe It

If the goal of training is to change behavior on the job, then what better way to know if it’s happening than to observe it? More and more solutions, including functionality in Kineo’s version of Totara, are available to put observation checklists in the hands (and I mean mobile phones or tablets) of managers and trainers. Of course, you can’t have managers or trainers observe every skill, but picking a few that are of critical importance can have a big impact. These results can then be viewed at the organization, region, or local level to assess training effectiveness, skills gaps, and learning transfer.

Kineo worked with a quick service company to implement observation checklists and assessments for key task like cleaning the slicer, taking orders at the drive-thru, and more. Below, you see the observation form:

OTJ Assessment

With the boom in social media and collaborative technologies, learning is going through massive transformation. In this exciting new world, the online learning your people receive needs to match the experience they have elsewhere online. They expect a clear connection between technology and real life – think Fitbit. They rely on peer input and insight – think Yelp. And they want real-time feedback and support – think "Likes" on Snap Chat. The tools to add in these experiences are more and more available to us as learning designers, and typically have little to no incremental cost for us to add, so let’s get on board.


  1. The Digital Learner: Delivering an Effortless Learning Experience, CEB Learning & Development Council 2016