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Workflow learning, 70/20/10, micro learning, ecosystems: Is there a silver bullet for Digital/

Someone I admire, who “gets” modern and digital learning, said he was looking for “that silver bullet” for digital learning. This is someone who had successfully implemented it in a very large enterprise. That statement gave me pause…. If he is looking for a magic answer, what is everyone else thinking?

Then I read a post from a thought leader talking about one of today’s hot topics (curation and microlearning) and how critical it is. The comments on that post were quite interesting. Some agreed, some were confused, some offered other ideas. Seemed they all were looking for that silver bullet.

Here is what I see: There is no ONE silver bullet. There is no one way to implement and drive engagement. But there are some very cool ideas that should be considered and blended together. Let’s break down some of the hot topics.

Workflow Learning, Learning in the flow of work

Some believe we used to call this experiential learning, but I believe it really is much more than that. Learning in the flow (LitF) allows an employee to access answers as they are working, rather than stopping work, going to another app and getting the knowledge they need at that moment. This does not necessarily involve practice, rather it makes it easy for the employee to address a moment of need. Great idea, especially in the busy work world.

More than a help app that walks them through the app or guides them how to do a task, LitF can quickly allow someone to get back to work and build knowledge. Is that learning? Sure, with the unique twist that digital learning gives us.

Take that one more step and provide resources to follow up and build more knowledge when they have time or need to make time. Adding a simple user experience platform that can tie to moments of need builds the capability beyond performance support. Tying Workflow learning and deeper learning together should be pieces of a greater ecosystem. The full ecosystem includes performance support along with social learning, just in time approaches, coaching, practice, reinforcement/spaced learning and deep learning.

Silver bullet, well, not alone, but an important piece of ammunition to build a real ecosystem.

Is it still 70/20/10?

While we still need to mix experiences, relationships and formal learning, the mix has changed. We all know that we truly learn by doing. And that we prefer to learn from others. But the new capabilities of digital learning blur those lines considerably. The right ratio really depends on the topic, the complexity and the need.

When I ask learning leaders what they see as the right ratio of today, most see it more evenly. With the addition of micro learning, video learning, social learning, curation and AI, my informal research shows the blend is often more like 45/35/20 or 50/35/15 or even 55/40/5.

With the tools of today, we can blend content and use digital learning to fill in experiences and relationships as well as add informal to the mix. It is the mix that works today. Be sure to design with a blend that address all three or even now four.

Good pathway design includes what I prefer to call the new blend: Modality, practice, SME and leader content, formal and informal, internal and external content. Designing with this new blend involves curation, mentoring SMEs and adds new tools, and thus, new skills for L&D. New roles today include curators, video experts and experience designers. These jobs ask us to think differently about content, design and experiences. They create collaborative and agile journeys that address business needs quickly.


Quick learning joke: I will keep this brief…. Microlearning is real and it works. Blend it in with a great experience design and you will engage employees. That’s it.

How does that impact your ecosystem?

To actually implement all of the tools we have today, you really need a carefully crafted ecosystem strategy. Let me repeat that: What is critical is a strategy.

The user experience needs to be top of mind. That means incorporating the old with learning the new, adding an LXP to your LMS, mixing formal with informal and internal with external. It means designing with the business and developing quickly. It means recruiting and mentoring SMEs and leaders. And it means blending content to meet the needs: from moment of need to deep skilling.

The real silver bullet: A New Strategy

In today's busy world. the question is how best to implement each of the hot topics that work for your company. A few questions to ask:

Do we provide just an easy answer and the ability to find in depth learning?

Do we make it simple to find answers and create a path to complete learning?

How do we provide the right mix for today?

What platform(s) do we need?

How do we incorporate microlearning with what we do?

Today, we all need the right strategy that works for each organization. There are many considerations: platforms, user generated content, workflow learning, microlearning, experiential, relationship and coaching, formal and informal learning. The whole experience to adapt to the world today.

That involves developing capabilities for our employees AND ourselves.

The best bet to me is to start with a strategy for the digital transformation.

Bottom line: use the tools that work for you, but keep a blend of all the great new digital concepts in mind. Modern learning tech brings in great ecosystems that can chunk up content from a variety of sources and provide knowledge and learning, from performance support to answers to capability development, all with a great user experience.

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