Category Archives: 70:20:10

E-Learning Days Support a Wide Range of Practical Learning Experiences

boy outdoors with tablet PCFall is an increasingly brief season here in the Northeast, so as temperatures finally start dropping, my thoughts move toward winter and a trend we started observing last year in which schools are replacing snow days with elearning days. During these days, students may attend webinars, Skype sessions, or work online completing on-demand learning modules. Living in New York City, where our new Mayor didn’t seem to know what a snow day was last winter, I’ve got a lot of sympathy for our kids having to trek through storm conditions to make it to school. Wouldn’t it be great if we had “E-Learning Days” instead?

Beyond the obvious benefits of reducing days missed when an actual snow day is called, or the challenges of getting everyone to the buildings when a snow day is not called, this approach goes a long way to building our kids’ skills at navigating technology-enhanced learning experiences and future workplace skills in both formal and informal ways.

1. Virtual Workplace Skills

Many of us have been working vitually for years. How many of you recall what your first virtual gig was like? By building in full-day “E-Learning Days” into the school calendar, we are prepping our young people for a world in which more and more jobs are either full-time virtual or at least some portion.

2. Online Study Skills

While nearly all school kids these days use the Internet for some portion of their homework research or support, working through activities designed specifically for the Web will contribute to computer and Web literacy. Building these skills over time through both formal and informal Web-based activities can help cut through some of the cacophony our kids are exposed to when left to their own devices (literally). These skills are essential to the 21st century workplace.

3. Independent Study Skills

Individual assignments can help to address specific gaps in certain academic areas, or can be used to allow students to explore certain topics in depth according to personal interest. Either way, E-Learning Days can be used to focus on individualized learning and help strengthen students’ skills and motivation. So much of what we learn on the job is individualized or self-directed. What better way to prepare for that than while still in school? A brief check-in via Skype with a classroom teacher could provide just the type of targeted feedback students need to progress with these activities.

4. Group Study Skills

Group projects seem to be the most challenging of all in the K-12 realm. But somehow, when we get to the workplace, we are expected to work in teams to complete projects and make money for our employers.

E-Learning Day group projects could be incorporated into a curriculum to help build these skills over time. Rubrics for and guidance in navigating team communications, team motivation, and creating a congenial group/team working environment could significantly improve the quality of not only the group experience but the actual project as well.

5. Online Communications Skills

Do kids really need this, you ask? Well, sure, most of our kids can text and use SnapChat, Facebook messaging, etc., but using an online chat tool, such as Skype, for example, to conference with teachers, group members, peer advisors, etc., could take these skills to new (and more productive) levels. All of us in the workplace turn to these tools as part of the daily process of getting our jobs done, in both formal (webinars, team meetings) and less formal (just-in-time support for an urgent work problem) ways.

“E-Learning Days” (and more than three of them a year) can bring us a lot closer to a 70:20:10 learning model in which formal and informal learning interventions and collaborative experiences are blended to create a more realistic and pragmatic K-12 school experience.

And that can bring our students a lot closer to being prepared to enter the workplace!

Keep watching us at Designs2Learn for more on the latest learning trends across the educational continuum.

70:20:10 Starting with K-12


70:20:10 is most often spoken and written about in the context of corporate training and workplace performance improvement. But if you look at today’s educational landscape, you’ll see that our students can greatly benefit from expanding the universe of support they receive as they make their way from childhood to working adults. At K16, where we support multiple approaches to learning along the continuum of one’s educational “career,” we believe that 70:20:10 is an appropriate lens through which to view today’s educational market. Optimal learning is best achieved when learners at all stages of their education have access to multiple sources of expertise, learning content, and collaboration. Is there a right mix? What are the factors to be considered when applying a 70:20:10 approach to learning at all levels?

The Schools’ Role in 70:20:10

We suspect that the mixture will change over time, but in the earliest stages of development, a brick and mortar school can be an appropriate core component for young learners. Schools continue to be instrumental in the introduction of key learning concepts, core subject matter, and opportunities for socialization. Think of it like a “flipped version” of 70:20:10 where the schools (the “formal” part of the mix) provide the bulk of support during the early years.

It should, however, also be noted, that for practitioners of homeschooling and more specifically unschooling, DIY learning, the proportions may be closer to the original concept of 70:20:10, where self-directed learners are availing themselves of resources on hand to satisfy learning needs they have designed for themselves.

So even amongst school-aged children, there can be different perspectives on the appropriate mix.

Changing Proportions

As the bulk of mainstream learners grow with age, so too will their ability to reach out to and avail themselves of additional sources of expertise, learning content and collaboration. Therefore, the “mixture” may change as one gets older.

As students mature and take on more actual problem-solving activities, the concept of 70% of learning being devoted to real-life (on-the-job) tasks comes more into play.

As the role of higher educational institutions evolves, students will be aggregating knowledge and certification from a broader array of sources and institutions. As such, traditional universities will continue to play a vital role, but perhaps not as the sole provider of the educational experience or the institution granting the credit hours or degree.

Expertise on Demand

The role of experts and mentors along the continuum of learning experiences has evolved with the technology, but the premise is pretty much the same. Students continue to reach out to friends and advisers to help them along the way. Only now, there is technology to expand the network that our students have access to and through which they get support for their educational activities.

Looking Beyond the Numbers

We know that most applications of 70:20:10 may not prescribe the same exact percentages to different types of learning experiences, but instead we look to 70:20:10 to consider the overall ecosystem of support provided to people as they strive to solve problems and perform better in the workplace. We’re now considering the broader spectrum of learning experiences starting with the youngest children to see how we can best leverage today’s technology and business partnerships to improve educational experiences and results. Most importantly, we’d like to see how we can mix things up to better prepare students of all ages for engagement in our ever changing society.

Stay tuned to Designs2Learn for more on how effective design and technology supports learning in today’s complex educational and workplace environments.


Is Storytelling a Part of Your Learning Design?

Once Upon a TimeAboard a recent flight from New York to San Francisco, I watched the new United Airlines safety video. Yes, I watched it because it was not only a smooth piece of marketing for the airline, but it was also an improved means of teaching or reminding passengers about airline safety. The video was a well-crafted piece of storytelling and held my interest as I heard each of the characters tell their part of the story. Storytelling has proved its value as a teaching tool time and time again, but just how much of a place does storytelling have in today’s learning culture? How do we define storytelling nowadays? How do we adapt best practices to meet the needs of the millennial learner-employee?

Use of Expert Stories

Expert stories are used in a number of ways in the development of training and performance support content.

  • An expert story might provide the basis for the learning design, as a foundation from which objectives are extrapolated and around which the training content is presented. This is frequently the way most training design begins. Sometimes this is referred to as the “brain dump” in situations where the expert shares what s/he knows and the learning designer “takes it from there,” building a learning design around those objectives in a series of presentational screens or PowerPoint slides. Interactivity may be introduced at varying levels to make the experience more engaging.
  • In other situations, an expert story may become a part of the training itself, either in the form of video clips integrated within the learning design itself, or as the main component of a course or learning module, around which activities such as assessments and discussions may be designed.
  • “The expert clip” (those video clips of varying lengths) can also be included as part of a more extensive knowledge base, tagged and categorized as appropriate for maximum findability to be accessed by learners and employees on an as-needed basis in order to complete training or on-the-job tasks.

Immersive Stories (aka “Scenarios”)

All of the above examples use stories to illustrate effective decisions made and lessons learned. There is a more learner-centric use of stories, and that is the participation of your learners in the story in order to actually practice effective decision-making, perhaps fail, and receive remediation and feedback as part of the skills-building process.

While “illustrative storytelling” can support learners and employees engaged in specific tasks, it’s the “immersive storytelling” that is going to place them within a task for the sole purpose of actually simulating the doing of that task in a safe environment. And while immersed in that practice task, your virtual characters are still going to need the support of an expert to guide them safely to goal.

So it’s not an either-or situation but rather a matter of how safe and appropriate it is to let your learners loose on the specific tasks at hand.

Storytelling in an Organizational Context

Storytelling has immense value across today’s educational continuum, and it can play a role anywhere within the mix of learning appropriate to your specific audience. Stories have their place in PK-12, higher education and the workplace, whether discussing “moral tales” or case studies. In the corporate arena, stories can play a role not only in training and performance support, but also as a leadership tool for multiple purposes. Stephen Denning wrote on this in a great piece called “Telling Tales” in the Harvard Business Review, May 2004. It still has value today. Denning talks about how a carefully chosen story can help the leader of an organization translate an abstract concept into a meaningful mandate for employees and lays out the different types of storytelling for different audiences and purposes. According to Denning, stories can:

  • Spark action
  • Communicate who you are
  • Transmit Values
  • Foster collaboration
  • Tame the grapevine
  • Share Knowledge (intellectual capital)
  • Lead people into the future

Storytelling in a 70:20:10 World

Today everyone can be an expert and contribute their stories to the knowledge base whether as part of small group interactions in the classroom, online discussions as part of a synchronous learning experience, or within the workplace in the form of content shared within a company portal.

The trick here is in the monitoring of the conversations, the curating of the content and the appropriate form of storytelling at the right point in time. The mix is changing on a regular basis. With today’s growing acceptance of blended learning within PK-12, for example, students are getting more opportunities to engage in online learning experiences, including some scenario-based gaming applications rejiggered for the school environment. (Minecraft)

When we consider today’s learners and our audience within the workplace, we know we need to provide learning content in appealing doses and formats.  While a talking head may not be enough to sustain a 10-week college course, it might be just the right thing for a salesperson looking for quick advice on how to meet a specific type of customer objection, for example. And if that salesperson is a new hire, it might just be appropriate to immerse him in a 30-minute scenario where he can practice meeting different objections and fail safely within the confines of the learning experience.

Stories come in many different formats and serve different purposes. What they all have in common is that they can play an integral role in increasing understanding and driving performance across the educational continuum.

Stay tuned for more stories from Designs2Learn. And if you’d like to see more about that new airline safety video, Forbes has a nice piece on it, including the video itself here.

70:20:10 Lessons Learned from Unschooling

best practice signAs we continue to explore the appropriate blend of learning across the educational continuum, the recurring themes that arise include the need for more individualized instruction, the importance of project-based learning, and the role that mentors can play in the development of our students and employees. Today, we’re going to look briefly at the world of unschooling and examine how some s best practices arising from one system may be applied to the other.

A Very Brief Overview

John Holt, the teacher and writer is credited with coining the phrase “unschooling” to refer quite simply to “learning without going to school.” Holt’s many works detail his belief that children should learn according to their own curiosity and interests, that they spend more time out of school, and that they learn from a larger circle of teachers, including from their own peers. Holt had six years’ experience teaching in the fifth grade before he “dropped out” in the late 60s to focus on writing, lecturing, and consulting with school systems across the country.

The work of Peter Gray also lends insight into the unschooling movement, particularly the study he did in 2011, “A Survey of Grown Unschoolers,” of 75 grown unschoolers.  In his summary of the survey, Gray notes:

“Almost all of the respondents, in various ways, wrote about the freedom and independence that unschooling gave them and the time it gave them to discover and pursue their own interests.  Seventy percent of them also said, in one way or another, that the experience enabled them to develop as highly self-motivated, self-directed individuals. Many also wrote about the learning opportunities that would not have been available if they had been in school, about their relatively seamless transition to adult life, and about the healthier (age-mixed) social life they experienced out of school contrasted with what they would have experienced in school.”

What Lessons Can We Derive?

Today everyone is encouraged to be an innovator, and more and more, we look throughout the entire chain of command to ensure the success of the organization. The sense of individual responsibility that is required for such success within large corporations and self-owned businesses is something that has to be nurtured early on. When we look at the hallmarks of the unschooling movement, we can see some of the qualities that help to foster such self-directed and innovative practices.

This begs that question as to whether unschooling is the only means by which to nurture independent thinking, to increase the sense of individual responsibility and to make better use of peer engagement and outside experts in the learning process. No, but it does encourage us to examine the current blend of learning, the role of test-driven curricula, and the potential to a move toward an increased ratio of project-based learning, DIY or maker-driven blended learning and even “e-learning days,” those days off from the brick and mortar complex to individualized projects completed at home and which still contribute to students’ completion of their graduation requirements.

The introduction of blended learning programs in the schools addresses at least the issue of more support for individualized learning, and there is growing evidence of more successful collaborations between the public and private sectors through which an increased number of outside experts are engaging with our students in the schools. Two groups that I’ve enjoyed following are iMentor and Tools at Schools.

Unschooling has provided a reasonable alternative for many families for whom traditional education was not an option. By looking at the benefits extolled by its own practitioners and the evidence of their successes beyond the K-12 arena, we may derive some additional best practices for preparing our next generation for adulthood and a 70:20:10 workplace.


Blended Learning and 70:20:10

This powerful image, called “At School,” first appeared in a series called “France in the Year 2000,” postcards created for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. In this prescient series, artists imagined what life would be like in the year 2000. The series is posted to The Public Domain Review, and I first saw it via a link from the innovative folks at Rise Out.

What is so interesting about the series is how insightful some of the concepts were in envisioning how technology would impact on people’s lives in all aspects ranging from daily chores such as housekeeping to agricultural practices and warfare. What remains so interesting today is how these images can help us reflect on where we are today and where we would like to be in terms of how to use technology to improve our lives.

As we see more and more applications of technology-assisted instruction and the principles of blended learning enter the discussion over best educational practices, we realize that 70:20:10 has already made an appearance in classrooms, although it may not always be referred to as such. It’s only fitting to consider how “the blend” will evolve over time.

Early Iterations of Blended Learning in the Workplace

Early on, there were a number of reasons for blending learning, and many of them had to do with introducing an online component into the mix, oftentimes with a goal in mind of reducing the need for travel and therefore reducing costs. In those days we thought about how to best present the content and tagged the following as “valid” reasons for designing and developing online courses:

  • Content that needed to reach the greatest number of employees.
  • Courses covered infrequently at remote locations.
  • Content considered pre-work to other training activities.
  • Content that changed so frequently that it’s difficult to keep the audience up-to-date.
  • Content that put the learner in harm’s way (use of simulations covered this).
  • Content requiring significant drill and practice to master.
  • Content linked to regulatory compliance or certification.
  • Content requiring consistent delivery.

While some of these still hold true as reasons for determining the nature of delivery, decisions go beyond how to deliver a course, but how to drive performance on a regular basis.

Blended Learning Becomes 70:20:10

As online learning has become more of the standard mix in the corporate environment, conversations have evolved and become more focused on informal learning and how that can best be applied within the workplace. So, the blend” is now less about combining online with face-to-face but more about the degree of formality in the mix. The 10% (or more, percentages do not have to be exact) of formal learning most likely includes both face-to-face instruction and online learning components.

The larger concern is how to best provide the tools and management over the other 90%. How can organizations best provide the informational resources and expertise to increase employee engagement and improve employee performance? Technology in the form of performance management and individualized learning plans can support the formal part of the equation while online coaching and mentoring tools, personalization features and capabilities around user-generated content all contribute to making more robust informal and social learning.

What is Driving Blended Learning in K-12?

In a lot of classrooms nowadays, “blended” in many cases has come to mean a blended modality within the classroom itself. Teachers are utilizing technology-assisted instruction to better enable them to carry out individualized instruction, assigning online activities to individual students and groups while working one-on-one (or in small groups) with others.

It’s no secret that a great deal of blended learning in K-12, and the attendant technology offerings, can be tracked to Common Core and concerns around meeting the standards. We’re not going to enter that debate here, but to see this blend occur in this manner is interesting and has a lot of implications for the future of learning.

Project-based learning, DIY Learning and the Maker Movement are trends that reflect the growing confidence in experiential learning and how we can strengthen the bond between how you learn in school and how you learn on the job.

Our Own Look to the Future

As we’ve discussed previously, we see all manner of learning moving in the direction of a model much like that of 70:20:10. While the percentages may differ, and where the bulk of learning activity along the continuum may reside within a more formal environment for some and less formal for others remains to be seen.

As online learning enters the K-12 environment and teachers are provided tools to address individual learning styles more efficiently and more effectively, students also become better equipped to manage or direct their own learning.

And as these students mature, and utilize more of the tools at their disposal to support their learning, they enter the workplace with even more skills to address the problem solving required of them.

At least that’s how I see the future state. (Don’t forget to look “back to the future” by checking out the other “Year 2000” images at Public Domain Review!)