Thursday, 4 April 2013

Part 2 - The 70/20/10 Learning Model: Lessons for Education

This blog post is the second part of a series.  To see the first part, ‘The 70/20/10 Learning Model and Games Based Learning’, click here.

Image courtesy of blogefl (Graham
Stanley) on Flickr
Given the 70/20/10 Learning Model that I discussed in part one is true of adults, might it also be true of children?  Could this model be used to inform the education system?  By definition, schooling is formal learning and you cannot really decide the destiny of a child from a young age and treat them as an apprentice.  However, elements of the model could perhaps be useful.

Currently, the education system may be more like 10/20/70.  Schools, colleges and universities provide formal learning; however, there may be ways to make this seem less formal and be more appealing.  On the job learning is difficult to achieve for children, however, on the job could be understood more as learning by doing, as this is what happens at work.  You are not formally taught skills, but must adapt and learn them on the job.  For a child, you might not formally be taught information or skills, but might have to discover them for yourself (Project Based Learning for example).  Learning from others (the 20%) could also be more important in education and could be facilitated by Flipped Learning or collaborative learning simulations for example.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is where learning is structured around a project and the children must learn what they need to complete the project.  ‘The Future of Learning, Networked Society’ video in this blog post suggests that in the 21st century, what is important is not telling children to memorise facts and answers to questions we already know the answers to, but to tell them the project and let them figure it out for themselves.  The children are allowed to learn by doing and to collaborate which can be very motivating, however, it is obviously not possible for teaching the basics.  For more information about PBL, see our article '10 Benefits of Project Based Learning’ and our ‘Learning’ Pinterest board.

Another form of ‘on the job’ learning for children could be through learning simulations.  Learning simulations are computer based serious games, which simulate a real situation or event.  They can be highly successful, safe, inexpensive learning tools and can teach a broad array of topics (for some examples, visit  The important words here are safe and simulation.  Children (and adults, see Part 1) are allowed to experience an event or situation that might be unsafe, impractical or impossible in reality.  Simulations are also more simplified versions of real-life and therefore, can act as better learning tools.  While learning simulations are formal training, they don’t seem like they are (and aren’t as ‘formal’ as most classes) and offer some of the advantages of on the job learning i.e. learning by doing.  Some simulations also help breach the 20% and encourage collaborative learning.

I am sure many of you will have heard of The Kahn Academy.  The Academy basically outsources most of what you would expect from lessons (lecturing, questions and so on) to videos which students can watch online.  This frees up lesson time for more focused and personalised help and instruction from teachers as well as demonstrations, projects, experiments and so on.  This is a form of Flipped Learning.  Please watch the video from Salman Khan on our previous blog post for a better explanation.  While the videos and class time are used for formal learning, there is more scope for hands-on, experiential and collaborative learning than traditional methods.

I think that what is important is the blend.  This is exactly Lombardo and Eichinger’s argument.  They believe that learning occurs best when there is a blend of different approaches.  Learning from experience, from others and from formal training can be extremely powerful.  I just think that education could do more to tap into the 70% and 20%.  This is especially true if they are going to be expected to learn in a completely different way as adults.

Another important aspect of the model which is worth mentioning is that learning occurs due to the realisation of a need to learn and the motivation to do something about it.  A problem with schools (which was mentioned in some of the videos in a previous blog post, ‘The Future of Learning’) is that they tell the children to learn because it will be important in the future and to trust that the teacher knows best.  The child is never fully informed of why they need to learn (and often they are learning things they will never need), so they can lack motivation.

Children are quick to ask, “when will I need / use this?” and they are often spot on.  Not many people will need to remember names and dates of historical figures and battles or be able to recite a poem or know the periodical table off by heart.  21st Century Skills such as problem-solving, collaboration and creativity are increasingly important as well as numeracy skills, literacy skills and so on.  As Mark Prensky argued, "too many teachers see education as preparing kids for the past, not the future".

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

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