Thursday, 4 April 2013

Part 1 - The 70/20/10 Learning Model and Games Based Learning

The 70/20/10 Learning Model is based on research published by M. Lombardo and R. Eichinger in 1996.  It is a popular Learning and Development Model about how successful managers learn.  It essentially says that 70% of learning takes place on the job, informally, through experience.  20% is learnt from others through feedback, coaching, mentoring and so on and 10% is from formal learning, from courses, training and reading.

Image courtesy of blogefl (Graham
Stanley) on Flickr
Jobs in the 21st century are changing.  Employers want employees who are quick learners and who are adaptable, as the world is increasingly fast-paced and dynamic.  However, as Harold Jarche noted, work is becoming learning and learning is becoming part of work and employers appreciate this.  Many employers recognise that in a knowledge economy, their employees are their greatest resources, so learning and development is in their best interest.  Corporates are also more likely to have loyal, hardworking staff if they treat them well and allow them to grow and develop as much as possible.  But how does learning take place?

According to the theory, employees learn most on the job rather than in formal courses.  This makes sense.  In most cases, you are more likely to be able to learn about the job from being in the workplace, learning from colleagues and trying things for yourself than in a degree or other formal training.  Many degrees are centred around theories, readings and research more than practical, job-related skills (with the exception of a few, such as medicine etc.).  You are also not that likely to get a book or course that is specifically matched to your job role, as most roles and companies are different.

This begs the question that if 70% of learning at work is through experience and only 10% occurs through formal training, why (in the UK at least) are we sending so many students through university?  Why are we not instead looking more at apprenticeship schemes and the like?  But, I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s more of a point for Part 2 – The 70/20/10 Learning Model: Lessons for Education.

How else do managers learn?  The model states that 20% of learning takes place from others through coaching, mentoring, feedback, working cooperatively and so on.  The final 10% is formal training.  But what does this have to do with games based learning?

Games can be played informally for fun; however, this doesn’t mean they are void of value.  Many games develop skills that can be valuable in the workplace.  These are often softer skills, such as problem solving, cooperation, time management and multi-tasking (see our post, ‘21st Century Skills and Games Based Learning').  Other skills can be developed too though, which could be useful for jobs, such as hand eye coordination for surgeons (see the link at the bottom of our article, ‘Games are Good for You!’).

However, games can also be used as formal training.  pixelfountain (who bring you this blog) design, develop and deliver learning simulations for adult learners in the workplace.  We specialise in developing learning simulations to be used in collaborative workshops.  Our simulations typically simulate a community, university, company and so on and the group is split into teams that must collaborate and cooperate to improve the community etc and reach their goals.  While these simulations are used formally, at away days, on courses, for strategy development and so on, they also tap into the 20% and 70%.

Firstly, they are simulations, so they go some way at simulating a situation or event that is similar to the delegates’ work.  This allows them to experience these situations in a safe environment.  This is important as you can allow learning to take place in ways that you could not in real life.  For example, if the group is in charge of a town in the game and you want them to learn about what to do in the event of a flood, riot, budget cut etc., it is much easier and more ethical to do this in a game than in real life.  The armed forces, pilots and so on are trained using simulations for this very reason.  While this is still formal training, it is simulating a work environment and the delegates are learning through experience.

Our learning simulations are also designed to be used collaboratively in a workshop setting.  The facilitator is the only person who uses the computer and the delegates see the simulation on a large screen or whiteboard.  They must work within and between their groups, with the help of worksheets, to reach their goals.  The collaborative nature of our workshops mean that people can share wisdom, learn from each other, network, give each other feedback, negotiate and so on.  This is an incredibly powerful way of learning and is why our innovative take on training, learning simulations and workshops is so popular.

Working with new colleagues in an authentic yet relaxed manner is often cited by delegates at pixelfountain workshops as a key benefit of the approach.  These relationships can be built upon post workshop particularly with communications technology such as Yammer or Wiztango.  These and other corporate social media tools provide a perfect method to bridge the potential 70/20/10 gap.

Hopefully, I’ve explained the Model to you and shown its relevance to games based learning.  In Part 2, I’ll look at what we could learn from the 70/20/10 Learning Model in terms of education.

Lombardo, Michael M; Eichinger, Robert W (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Lominger.

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