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What is formal learning and why you should expand your learning plan

• 2 min read

Formal learning is important, but it shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your training program

As technology trends evolve, so do our learning preferences. Research shows that today’s workers retain knowledge better and they are more engaged at companies that have adopted the 70:20:10 learning model.

This means we learn the most when we acquire 70% of the information we need at work via on-the-job training, 20% through collaboration with the experts and peers in the organization and 10% through traditional, formal training.

What is formal learning?

Classroom-based, instructor-led training (ILT), required readings and virtual ILT are all good examples of formal learning. These modalities are effective for delivering necessary information, but research shows that if you rely  your main source of learning, then your employees may not retain that knowledge. And the less engaged your learners are, the more likely they are to leave the company before their first work anniversary.

There’s a time and a place for formal learning

Formal learning should not be abandoned altogether, but considering how much learning actually happens via informal and social avenues, it should not be your primary training method.

Studies show that if you take your sales team off the sales floor for required classroom ILT or event-based training, their knowledge retention after a week drops off the charts due to lack of engagement. Other factors stacked against ILT sessions include coordination difficulty, time consumption and, most of all, cost.

Formal learning in a virtual setting

Virtual ILTs are much more convenient because training can be accessed at anytime, anywhere. If a learning management system is used collaboratively, your learners can use chat and social features to discuss the course content, resulting in a more valuable experience.

When it comes to training employees, formal learning cannot be completely discredited, but it cannot (and should not) be your primary source of training. Your learners will retain more knowledge and they will be more engaged if you implement learning technology that supports the 70:20:10 learning model.