How To Use 70:20:10 Model For eLearning Solutions

How To Use 70:20:10 Model For eLearning Solutions
Summary: What is 70:20:10? According to Morgan McCall, Lombardo, and Eichinger who are credited with developing the idea back in 1996, it comes from how we learn. “Lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly: 70% from challenging assignments, 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from coursework and training.” The number that hopefully jumped straight out at you was the 10%.

The 70:20:10 Model  

They are saying that only 1/10th of what we learn comes from traditional learning – such as books and classes. Even teachers have only limited influence, with them offering up 20% of what a person learns. Far more happens when employees are on the job and putting their new skills to the test. This is where the rubber hits the road, as it were. This is where theoretical ideas get transformed into practical skills. If that isn’t allowed to happen, these new ideas will decay and be forgotten. Here is a more analytical look on 70:20:10:

eLearning And The 10%

Most eLearning as it is now designed is only part of the 10%, with most egg heads believing that this should be enough – after all, book learning is real learning, right? Wrong. We shouldn’t just learn about the world, but we should learn in the world. Most eLearning modules don’t do that. They are still designed around the concept of giving the learner information in a fixed setting –namely the eLearning module– rather than getting to go out into the world and apply it.


Instead, “formal learning must become the scaffolding to support learners as they develop the mindset, skills and culture to be continuous learners. But more than that, the real challenge lies in how we can liberate formal learning from its existing confines (in a Learning Management System or classroom) and allow it to seep into the moments and places where learners actually learn: in their workplace, with their peers, and in the time of need”, says Arun Pradhan.

How do you do that? Let me answer a question with a question. When you need information for a project, when you need to refresh a skill, or when you’re trying to remember something you learned, do you take the time to look at a 20 minute video, flick through a 100 slide presentation or, indeed, go through an eLearning module?

Who has time for that, right? Especially in a work environment we don’t have 30 minutes to devote to finding some fact or lesson.

And so, though you might originally have picked up the information in one of these places, when you need to fact-check or refresh you go elsewhere. For example, you’ll use Google, Youtube videos or you’ll consult a colleague and hope to get lucky. And if that doesn’t work? Then most of us say “well, look it up tonight”, which we then never do, because by then we’ve moved on to other things.  And thus things are forgotten.

What does that mean? It means that most modules are simply too cumbersome for the modern day working environment.

The 70%

For that reason, eLearning modules need to be split up and be made searchable so that the information is easily available to those who’ve completed it. Even better, they should be fully accessible to search engines, so that the information is immediately available.


What’s more, people have completed a module should know how to search the website it’s on to get access to the information they’re looking for. Here there is even some space for subtle branding, by making it clear that if they search for the information and include the brand of the eLearning provider, they’ll be much more likely to actually find the information they’re looking for.

Yes, this does mean that the information is no longer confidential and that other users may in affect learn the module “for free”. On the other hand, it also fixes the product in the employee’s mind through repetitive exposure, as well as steering traffic to the eLearning website when people unrelated to the eLearning find their way there.

The latter two must outweigh the former, right?

The Final 20%

But none of this will work unless employees are encouraged to use the product by management, operations and the organizational structure. Because if they’re not, only a small percentage of the information –that which is most easily applied or was the most interesting to the employee– will be retained.

eLearning on its own isn’t enough. The right culture needs to be in place in the company using the eLearning for it to have a chance to succeed. Management needs to support the eLearning and offer opportunities for employees to practice their newly acquired skills and theories.

If that isn’t in place then not only will the vast majority of the time the employee invested will be wasted, but your employees will not learn the new skills that will make them more valuable and will make your company better. And in the modern rapidly changing marketplace, that is a surefire way to end up outcompeted by a nimbler, more in tune competitor.