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The Secret to Connecting Online Learning to Business Performance

• 5 min read

It’s time to burst the learning bubble and fully embrace what can be done with online learning. 

In the book 70:20:10 Towards 100% Performance, author Jos Arets outlines Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s influence on the concept of separating learning and working. 

Taylor’s theory of scientific management, published in 1911, focuses on economic efficiency and assumes that efficiency is best delivered by high levels of standardization in highly-structured organizations. 

Across the corporate learning landscape, this theory established an overly-formalized approach to learning that ignored the potential impact of informal learning. 

The learning bubble, as it was once known, emerged from Taylorist thinking in a world that is long past.

Today’s world is very different. 

We now know that the way learning actually happens in real life is reflected in the 70:20:10 model, where formal learning only accounts for 10% of learning. The other 90% is made up of 20% social learning and 70% on-the-job, experiential learning. 

While the purpose of enterprise learning is generally to generate a measurable contribution to an employee, customer or partner’s development and positively impact organizational performance, in practice, it’s often used differently. 

The ‘learning bubble’ creates an air of confusion between goal and purpose – and this small difference can have severe consequences. If the goal is the delivery and measurement of the learning itself,  that inevitably leads to questions such as, ‘was the course completed?’ and ‘what did learners think of the course?’

As a result, measurement is usually focused on learning outcomes using learning metrics rather than focusing on performance outcomes tied to the business’ objectives.

Read more about the current State of Online Learning for Enterprises in our whitepaper

It’s Time to Rethink How We Measure Success in Online Learning

Technology has changed everything – in our lives and the ways we learn.

In academic studies of traditional online learning (or e-learning), effectiveness is generally described by a learner’s  ability to recall information or perform a limited set of tasks in a controlled environment. 

In other words: using learning metrics to measure learning outcomes. 

But these measurements are not of particular interest to the C-Suite. 

In the learning space, many will be familiar with how things have progressed from a technology perspective. As outlined in the diagram below, online learning has evolved from treating the learning and development function as a commodity, focused solely on managing learning activities with an LMS. 

As we consider the 70:20:10 model and learning in the flow of work, the need is for a modern and agile learning platform that supports engaging and impactful learning experiences – rather than just simply managing and delivering learning activities. 

As learning technology continues to evolve, developments in the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to elevate an organization’s ability to facilitate learning in the flow of work by accelerating the pace at which learners contribute to the learning process. For example, when learners generate their own content and upload it, this can be served up as a suggested piece of content for other learners who are deemed to gain value from it. This helps to generate more value from a learner’s willingness to participate and engage in social learning by making sure that their contributions are effectively shared across the organization. This ultimately results in a more intelligent and adaptive approach to learning that is directly related to driving better learning-related business outcomes. 

Focus on the Conditions for Learning

Most L&D functions focus heavily on helping employees consume content. 

But when they focus instead on influencing the conditions for learning, the opportunities to generate positive and measurable impact escalate. When we think about optimal conditions, we must consider the concept of learning in the flow of work. 

From a solution standpoint, moving beyond the LMS in a conventional, learning management context by extending its reach into the realm of social learning is necessary to establish an environment for people to ask questions, solve problems and share insights.

But how do you make sure that informal, in-the-flow-of-work learning is captured in a way that produces value? How do you formalize the informal?’ 

The success of any informal or social learning activity is your ability to centralize the information within an environment that others will find and benefit from. – and apply the learning to their everyday work lives, contributing ways to improve it and understanding its contribution to the overall learning objective.

Docebo Coach & Share empowers social learning in your learning platform, providing your learners a means for fluid informal knowledge transfer. This helps you establish your learning platform as the go-to destination for the best information on their inner workings of your company and job functions within it.

Learners can engage in discussions with subject matter experts in an online, always-accessible, and device-agnostic environment (desktop, mobile) so that learning becomes a collaborative, learner-driven activity, compared to a top-down, learning management activity. 

Learners can also create and upload their own content, such as a short video explaining a new process they’ve developed in the company’s productivity suite that’s helped them do a menial task twice as fast. Other learners can watch and leave their feedback in the comments about how they’ve used it or even improved it. 

In other words, your learning platform evolves from a software environment designed to simply deliver and manage online learning, to an accessible, online information hub that fosters continuous learning.

Connecting It All To Business Performance

Facilitating a greater focus on informal learning is so important today because, according to a report from Towards Maturity, organizations looking to support learning directly in the flow of work are more likely to see measurable business benefits than those who are not.

This data was taken by comparing organizations who strongly agree with using new models to embed learning in the workflow, against those who strongly disagree. 

And the results were clear, with those supporting learning in the workflow being:

  • 4-times more likely to respond faster to business change 
  • 3-times more likely to improve staff motivation
  • And 2-times more likely to see an increase in customer satisfaction


Learn more about taking the necessary steps to connect online learning to business performance by chatting to one of our experts.