Work environment design for learning

Catherine Lombardozzi writes, in Time for an Evolution:

To those of you who feel like you just stepped into the middle of a conversation, a learning environment (to my mind) is a collect of resources and activities for learning. The resources may be inanimate or human; the activities may be formal or informal. A well designed learning environment is curated with a specific need in mind. It may be curated by an individual (as in a personal learning environment), by a group (such as a community of practice), or by a designer who is supporting a specific complex need that can’t be met by training or other formal programs alone.

I’ve been promoting learning environment design as a way of thinking about what we used to call blended learning, and as a way of capitalizing on informal learning resources by curating the best materials (in your judgment) and making them easily accessible by your learners.

I have taken her image and added a 70:20:10 overlay. This could serve as a decision support tool for allocating time and resources for organizational learning and development.

70 20 10

5 Responses to “Work environment design for learning”

  1. Catherine Lombardozzi

    I’m glad you found the graphic helpful, Harold. I can relate to what you are trying to do, illustrating the classic distribution of learning across formal, informal, and on-the-job sources. What isn’t clear in the pretty graphic is how much overlap and muddy distinctions there are in the list of components. For example, when you work with colleagues on a project, is that learning by doing or learning through/with people? When you “lurk” in a MOOC with no real commitment to completing its requirements, is that formal or informal learning? While I drew nice solid lines on the chart, they really are quite hard to see.

    Since you brought up the idea that we should consider allocating resources by the 70:20:10 guideline, I’ll take the opportunity to ask a question. Here’s what I have trouble sorting out. I’m not sure that the costs in terms of time or money are equal across the different components, regardless of how effective or important they are. It costs more money, I think, to develop formal training than it does to create the environment for strong developmental relationships (at least in terms of the way we typically count resource expenditures). So I hesitate to advise folks to allocate budget and effort hours in a 70:20:10 split.

    It’s critical that learning leaders understand that we need to expend the effort and dollars on the things that are most helpful to learners, of course, but that may not equate to large amounts of budget and effort hours to get it done and there may indeed be more budget and time for some of the other components that may be a critical 10% of a person’s learning. (The sad thing is that it’s not so expensive to support the 70%, and yet we don’t do enough of that!) Are you suggesting that L&D budgets should be allocated by 70:20:10? And if so, how do you talk about the unequal draw on resources that the different kinds of learning components demand?

    • Harold Jarche

      Thanks, Catherine. You make a good point about the overlap and fuzziness between categorizations of what is really a complex area.

      My perspective on budgets is that there should not be one for L&D to control. It creates false distinctions between learning and work. The 70:20:10 guideline is for the organization and those who control resources. If we have an L&D department we automatically think that we have to have L&D problems to solve. Training is too often a solution looking for a problem.

  2. Esa Rahiala

    I think that we should also consider how to design work processes so that minimum amount of compulsatory learning is needed, to reduce the learning requirements. Good design saves energy in a very broad meaning.

  3. Ron Koller

    For the life of me, I cannot find (anywhere) a good breakdown of a typical Learning & Development budget. I know you threw the 80% out there and it is probably close. Do you know where we can find hard numbers?

    Nice post btw.


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