The 4 types of learning solution design

I’m lucky enough to be part of a group of L&Ders who are highly skilled at what they do, think about their craft to continually be better, and challenge the community to think more clearly about the learning solutions they design.

From what I have understood, I think there are four main options which different people will advocate for in different ways.

Resources first / digital first / performance support

This approach argues that to design good L&D solutions is to design as people use solutions currently. People don’t use Google Maps to help them learn how to get to their destination, they use it to get to their destination. People don’t use Twitter as a learning tool, they use it to connect with others. In both cases, if you learn something along the way, it’s a by-product – not the aim of the app itself. Similarly, if people need to do something at work, they’d rather have a resource to help them complete their task. That resource can be a one page PDF document, a video demonstrating how to do something, or a forum where you can ask someone your question.

I’ve lumped those three things together because they’re arguably the same thing. Form an orderly queue if you want to disagree.


I heard this from Charles Jennings. He described this as delivering a normal learning solution via a classroom based course, and adding content around it to improve the accessibility to content and limiting the need for all content to be delivered in the course itself. The ‘+’ element is providing more digital resources so that people can do activities pre- and post- the course, if that’s what’s needed. (this isn’t the same as blended learning)

70:20:10 / blended learning / social learning

If you have a business initiative such as completing 100% appraisals, one of the ways to make this happen is through a complete range of solutions. You can enable teams and managers to do their own ‘social learning’ by creating communities of practise or a group of advocates / champions. You can enable people to do their own self-directed learning by creating digital resources which answer the top questions people have directly.  You can support people with day to day problems with 1:1 coaching. You can deliver training courses for people who need to use systems.

Training courses

The most common go-to point of any business leader for delivering on a business need / learning need is through a training course. It’s what they know, what they understand, and what is easiest to observe. It’s also what procurement teams understand better than some of the above options. There’s nothing wrong with this option – particularly if it helps develop and establish your credibility as an L&D leader, and if it’s a good way to enable people to understand how you can deliver on learning solutions.

You’ll notice I haven’t really mentioned particular skills, knowledge or expertise. The above is more about highlighting the different methods of learning solution design and delivery available as L&Ders. As always, it’s less about which is right, which is better, and which is modern or not, and it’s more about what works in the business context you’re in.

Comments, and thoughts, always welcome.

One thought on “The 4 types of learning solution design

  1. Hey Sukh, an interesting read. I am not sure I fully understand the difference between 10+ and blended learning. Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

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