Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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A model of workplace learning

posted on
March 13th, 2011
Highlights, Just Jay

My colleagues at Internet Time Alliance and I have been discussing new models for learning. Not that I am giving up on this one:

Experience is still a more important teacher in the workplace than classes or workshops. People retain more when they learn informally, in response to need, because they deem the subject relevant and what they learn is reinforced when they put it into practice. The proportions of formal and informal learning vary with the task at hand, the context for learning, and the psyche of the learner. Generally, informal learning carries anywhere from four to ten times the weight of formal learning.

The old model is a wake-up call that says informal learning is important. Instead of acting like it’s not there, we should shape our organizations to nurture it. What’s missing is the how. How do you choose the aspects of informal learning you want to emphasize? The model doesn’t tell you that. You’ve had to select from a separate menu of options, for example:

(Scroll to zoom)

The 70-20-10 model* is more prescriptive. It buildsĀ upon how people internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge.

I want a model that provides more depth and guidance.

Also, I want to emphasize that the desired outcome is not learning; it’s behavior change.

Here’s the new model:

The diagram is a work in progress. It’s beta. It’s an active topic of discussion forĀ Internet Time Alliance. What do you think? Does this make things easier to understand? How can we make it better? A next step will be assigning values to reflect the relative importance of each component.

* 70/20/10 learning concept was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership and is specifically mentioned in The Career Architect Development Planner 3rd edition by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. I borrowed the description from Princeton’s HR department.

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