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70:20:10 Starting with K-12


70:20:10 is most often spoken and written about in the context of corporate training and workplace performance improvement. But if you look at today’s educational landscape, you’ll see that our students can greatly benefit from expanding the universe of support they receive as they make their way from childhood to working adults. At K16, where we support multiple approaches to learning along the continuum of one’s educational “career,” we believe that 70:20:10 is an appropriate lens through which to view today’s educational market. Optimal learning is best achieved when learners at all stages of their education have access to multiple sources of expertise, learning content, and collaboration. Is there a right mix? What are the factors to be considered when applying a 70:20:10 approach to learning at all levels?

The Schools’ Role in 70:20:10

We suspect that the mixture will change over time, but in the earliest stages of development, a brick and mortar school can be an appropriate core component for young learners. Schools continue to be instrumental in the introduction of key learning concepts, core subject matter, and opportunities for socialization. Think of it like a “flipped version” of 70:20:10 where the schools (the “formal” part of the mix) provide the bulk of support during the early years.

It should, however, also be noted, that for practitioners of homeschooling and more specifically unschooling, DIY learning, the proportions may be closer to the original concept of 70:20:10, where self-directed learners are availing themselves of resources on hand to satisfy learning needs they have designed for themselves.

So even amongst school-aged children, there can be different perspectives on the appropriate mix.

Changing Proportions

As the bulk of mainstream learners grow with age, so too will their ability to reach out to and avail themselves of additional sources of expertise, learning content and collaboration. Therefore, the “mixture” may change as one gets older.

As students mature and take on more actual problem-solving activities, the concept of 70% of learning being devoted to real-life (on-the-job) tasks comes more into play.

As the role of higher educational institutions evolves, students will be aggregating knowledge and certification from a broader array of sources and institutions. As such, traditional universities will continue to play a vital role, but perhaps not as the sole provider of the educational experience or the institution granting the credit hours or degree.

Expertise on Demand

The role of experts and mentors along the continuum of learning experiences has evolved with the technology, but the premise is pretty much the same. Students continue to reach out to friends and advisers to help them along the way. Only now, there is technology to expand the network that our students have access to and through which they get support for their educational activities.

Looking Beyond the Numbers

We know that most applications of 70:20:10 may not prescribe the same exact percentages to different types of learning experiences, but instead we look to 70:20:10 to consider the overall ecosystem of support provided to people as they strive to solve problems and perform better in the workplace. We’re now considering the broader spectrum of learning experiences starting with the youngest children to see how we can best leverage today’s technology and business partnerships to improve educational experiences and results. Most importantly, we’d like to see how we can mix things up to better prepare students of all ages for engagement in our ever changing society.

Stay tuned to Designs2Learn for more on how effective design and technology supports learning in today’s complex educational and workplace environments.


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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

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