Pervasive Learning in a nutshell

The chances are you have recognised it already in your organisation. Learning that is continuous, connected and community based. Basically, it is learning that is in everything that people do. Now you may well have heard of the 70-20-10 rule which is widely spoken about as being “the” model for continuous learning. However this is very prescriptive and was a model really created for the specific need of developing Senior Managers and Leaders. It makes it a problematic method for developing other groups of professionals as the ratios for learning differ within those groups.

So this is where the pervasive learning model comes into play. In 2013, Dan Pontefract devised the 3-33 model, which means 33% is formal, 33% is informal and 33% is social learning. Pervasive Learning is a more suitable definition in my mind. You only have to look at the dictionary definition for the word “pervasive” to see what I mean: spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people. Learning is collaborative, continuous, connected and community based. 

Because of this, I see the 70-20-10 rule being edged out by a more fluid way of learning.


So how do I support a pervasive learning environment?

It’s traditional in L&D speak to refer to your target audience as learners or students as though at some mysterious point during the day they transition from being regular colleagues, involved in their daily work to being people suddenly engaged in learning. But in a pervasive learning world, we never actually stop learning.

Now, if you actually adopt the idea of persistent understanding in your organisation, the term students starts to look somewhat silly. It can blur your thinking about how best to support them. So how else to think of your audience? Well, individuals or coworkers is an excellent start. Or you might focus more particularly on parts or groups like supervisors, sales people or new starters. That’s an excellent way of adopting the whole of their expertise and development and getting out from the LMS only mindset. It sounds obvious, however your people already have a recognised manner of behaving at work. The key is to completely understand your culture and behaviors in order to come up with the strategy which is right for you.

Look hard at your values, your direction behavior, what worked or didn’t work in the past as well as your social network policy if you have one. How do they normally congregate and collaborate outside the digital sphere? Is risk taking and error making supported and celebrated? If not, contemplate how smaller, more trusted groups of people could be more suitable. How siloed are your teams? Will there be an opportunity to promote cross team cooperation? Prepared to roll with an excellent new social networking strategy? Pushing individuals towards a great new digital channel? All fine, but what if your leaders are far more pen and paper individuals who consider technology with misgiving? Doesn’t set the right tone, does it? What you need are winners and evangelists. Individuals who lead the manner and show how it is done. Look for what Jay Cross calls the darkness organisation – these informal influencers who will truly inspire and set the tone.

So are you ready to embrace a world of pervasive learning in your organisation?



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