Learning at the Speed of Need: Supporting Pervasive Learning at Every Step

taking-notes-at-computer_600x400_aWhen seasoned learning and development professionals look at the oft quoted 70-20-10 model, the first reaction can include despair or disbelief. If the model is to be believed, it would indicate that instructional design and classroom teaching only amounts to 10% of an employee’s learning at work — while twice as much of that learning comes from employee’s peers and seven times as much is due to lessons learned from actually accomplishing difficult tasks.

The good news for L&D professionals is that researchers in the field are increasingly finding that the fields defined by 70:20:10 are not as rigid as they may seem, and that holistic learning is a cumulative product of a tightly integrated loop of learning activities, including formal, social, and informal learning.

But the 70-20-10 model was onto something: the notion that learning is a product of doing.

When employees have an important task to complete, they either learn what they need to complete the task, or they can’t complete the task. Learning, then, is a product of need, rather than a learning calendar which might feel arbitrary in grind of the day-to-day.

When learning is understood in this way, as an interconnected system of pervasive learning opportunities, a new opportunity for L&D professionals emerges. Coined the 3-33 model, pervasive learning acknowledges the equal roles (33% each) that formal, informal, and social learning play in employee learning. By creating formal training materials, facilitating social learning, and curating content for informal learning, L&D professionals can accelerate learning through instructional design that touches on all three aspects of how employees actually learn.

Of course, the content still needs to be relevant to the task at hand. eLearning with video has a role to play in making learning content available on demand, from anywhere, just when employees need it most, while online learning tools, in the hands of the employees themselves, can make social and informal learning effective at scale. By better delivering formal and informal learning content, and by facilitating social learning among employees, L&D teams can produce relevant, pervasive learning, for everyone in the organization, every day.

Delivering high-quality formal learning courses with live and on-demand video

The bread-and-butter of traditional training initiatives, formal learning is acknowledged in the 3-33 pervasive learning model for its importance as an integral piece of employee learning. Sometimes referred to as the “mortar” in the brick wall of corporate learning, formal learning can not only hold together other aspects of learning, but spark new avenues which, in turn, spawn new opportunities for informal and social learning.

Formal training, taught in the classroom, had two critical limitations that limited its benefit to a pervasive training initiative.

The first was inefficiency. Relying exclusively on classroom training was costly and logistically complex. eLearning and video have largely solved these problems, allowing employees to access distance learning through live webcasted video courses, broadcast from a classroom somewhere across the country, or the conference room down the hall that was simply too full to accommodate additional participants. Recorded video gives employees anytime, on-demand access, so scheduling conflicts can’t get in the way of learning. And, by eliminating travel, training budgets can be spent on instructional design and trainers, not hotel rooms and airfare.

The second issue was the limited volume of relevant content. Training teams are responsible for producing big results and, due to the limitations of in-person training, that meant leveraging economies of scale to train the largest group of employees. On-demand eLearning gave trainers new freedoms, to teach a lesson once, and then move on to the next topic. Instead of re-teaching a lesson each month or quarter, trainers can divide their attention between many topics and departments, and update the video only when the content needs to be updated.

Pervasive learning relies on content being relevant. Whether it is content that is “pulled down” by employees as they need it, or “pushed out” to them as it fits the organization’s needs, a larger library of training content and anytime, anywhere access makes it a reality for the first time. In some instances, organizations need not develop a dedicated course for distribution online: they can simply record their classroom presentations and, with minimal editing, make it available online.

Enterprise video platforms, designed with training teams in mind, make formal learning with video much easier. Unlike public-facing video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, a “corporate YouTube” hosted in an enterprise video platform can be fully integrated with the existing learning management system and all of the text-based learning modules that have already been created. For instructional designers, the move to video to deliver eLearning can be a series of simple steps, adding videos where and when they best serve the content.

The move from traditional eLearning to eLearning with on-demand video can have huge benefits for establishing a pervasive learning initiative, just by making it a little easier to produce and share content, thereby speeding up the process and providing end-users with a more relevant library of learning content.

Informal Learning

L&D professionals can have a lot of fun producing materials that help their employees learn critical skills. Informal learning can come from most any source. Content can come in almost any number of formats, including interviews, case studies, podcasts, written books and articles, and more. Need some examples? Listen to interviews on the Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast, or attend a local TEDx event. These examples make great fodder for informal learning initiatives and can be easily reproduced in-house. Hearing from thought leaders inside the company is a powerful way to get the rank-and-file excited about your learning initiative.

Enterprise video platforms make it simple to webcast a live presentation using little more than a laptop and an internet connection. But they also simultaneously record the events so L&D can create a “corporate YouTube,” a private place just for your organization, that makes it simple for anyone to access informal learning content on demand. Perkins Coie, a law firm with offices all over the United States, used Panopto to capture live presentations from company leaders and visiting professionals, so that everyone, not just the people in the room, could benefit from the information.

In a pervasive learning model, L&D has a critical role to play in creating content in a variety of formats. Multimedia formats — audio and video — are both easy to create and easy to consume. For the first time, ever, they’re also easy to produce using just a laptop, a webcam, and a microphone. And don’t discount audio-only presentations either. With mobile apps, employees can even tune into informal listening content as they work, on a business trip, or on their daily commute.

Social Learning

Challenges at work come up all the time, but not to every employee every day. Social learning turns a group of employees into a network of learners. By sharing their experiences and observing the consequences of actions taken around them, employees can augment the learning that anyone employee could achieve on their own.

Not every employee has time to design a sophisticated and andragogically accurate eLearning lesson — that would be overkill for most any application of social learning — but almost everyone can narrate over a screen capture or slide presentation to share:

  • Faster workflows for a given process or piece of software
  • Solutions to sticky sales problems from the field
  • Lessons learned from a recent misstep

In a pervasive learning model, L&D professionals should ensure that their employees have the tools they need to share knowledge. This includes both a simple, no-fuss way to record and automatically upload the content, and a way for the right people to find, view, and interact with the content that their colleagues have produced.

Through the use of ratings and comments, robust dialogs can crop up around an employee’s social learning video. Individuals can respond to questions, or with their own experiences to qualify the original video’s assumptions. Beyond the original awareness generated by social video, debate and discussion are powerful tools for closing the learning cycle.

L&D professionals can help move the needle further, by getting team managers and department heads to participate in social learning videos, both as a content producer and as a commenter. But it’s important to remember that even if a given employee isn’t participating actively in the social learning conversation, it doesn’t mean that they’re not learning. Being able to gauge an employee’s engagement through video analytics can help trainers quantify the benefit of “lurking.”

Pervasive Learning is Training for Anytime, Anywhere, and comes from Anyone in Your Organization

The Panopto video platform helps L&D organizations produce formal and informal training content, and facilitate social learning initiative. Using recorded, on-demand video, L&D professionals have an end-to-end tool to produce, store, organize, and share all of the content needed throughout their organization, and to create this content at a faster rate than ever before.

To see a demonstration of how Panopto can power your pervasive learning initiative, contact a member of our team to schedule a demo and sign up for a free trial.

Published: August 25, 2015

Recommended Articles