Taking a Blended Approach to Your Learning Design

Taking a Blended Approach to Your Learning Design

9 January 2017


What is blended learning?

In the world of learning, we’ve been using the term ‘blended learning’ for many years now but what does that look like in this digital age?

The basic principles remain the same, there’s just a lot more options to use to get your message across.  One of the simplest ways I’ve found of explaining what blended learning looks like is by using the 70:20:10 framework.  This framework suggests that the most effective programmes are made up of:

  • 70% of learning takes place on the job
  • 20% of learning takes place in an informal or social setting
  • 10% of learning should take place in a formal learning environment

Don’t get hung up on the percentages as this is a concept rather than a firm rule!  If you have a little more formal learning happening than you do on the job don’t panic but do have a think about how you can engage the learner with the process more and maybe introduce some workplace learning activity to follow up the formal learning that takes place.

So, what might that look like in the workplace?

You can find examples of some of the types of learning you might find in each of the categories in outline below:

On the job:

  • Projects
  • Planned experience
  • Day to day tasks
  • Continuous improvement and problem solving activity
  • Taking on additional responsibilities
  • Acting as a delegate for manager
  • Cross skilling across teams to be multi-functional
  • Experience new tasks

Informal or social:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Discussion forums
  • Networking
  • Conferences
  • One to ones with line manager
  • Professional memberships


  • Training courses
  • Reading
  • elearning
  • Development programmes
  • Content management sites
  • Diagnostic tools and psychometric testing
  • Certification
  • Further education

This is far from an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of what effective workplace learning and development could include, whether it’s an onboarding or an Executive leadership programme.  One or two things can fit in a both the formal and social learning categories depending on how you use them.  For example, reading a book is an individual activity that is a traditional way of learning but if you then take part in a book review group in a social setting then it combines the social learning element too. 

With advances in technology happening faster than we can keep up with them, it’s important to try and create learning programmes that provide opportunities for us to experience different kinds of learning.

So how blended is your approach to learning in your organisation?  Are you providing opportunity to your employees to get involved in their own learning and take ownership for it or are you continuing to focus on telling people what you think they need to know rather than letting them experience it for themselves?


Vicky Connor (Chartered MCIPD), MA (Hons)

Managing Director of People Learn Ltd

Guest Blogger & Customer