How people learn

As part of some work on the PDP toolkit in BT we’ve been thinking very hard about how people actually learn these days, and I wanted to share and explain the latest diagram we are using to communicate that. As always feedback is welcome, and in this case might even influence the forthcoming PDP toolkit.

Research suggests that 70% of what we learn is picked up on the job. 20% of our learning happens socially and through collaboration. And just 10% of our learning happens through courses and resources. Some of your learning activities are also forms of Give Back.

70% on the job development
A lot of the knowledge and skills you need for your job can only be learned by doing it. Learning by doing is nothing new, but there are ways to make sure that you’re learning as much as you can from your work, and tricks to help you make that learning stick. We’ve summarised that in three sections

  • Stretch yourself: by taking on harder work, more responsibilities, new challenges.  You will learn and develop simply by doing.
  • Reflect back: reflective practice is simply taking time to think about what has happened, what you learned from it, and what you might do in future.  By writing something down, you cement the learning you’ve gained from your own experiences.
  • Volunteer in the community: there are many opportunities outside your normal job to try different kinds of work as a volunteer and to develop as a leader, all of which build skills that you can use in the workplace.

20% social and collaborative learning
We learn a lot from the people around us. We watch how others do things, ask questions, and pick things up through everyday conversations. The four summary sections this time are Connect with people, Learn through contribution, Take a lead and develop others

  • Connect with people: social learning in BT is now easier than ever – you can have conversations with people all over the business via Profession and Subject sites in the Academy and using MyProfile.
  • Learn through contribution: sharing what you have learned with other people consolidates and solidifies your own knowledge.  When you find useful and relevant resources, the discipline of sharing and commenting helps you to apply that knowledge to your own situation, and helps you remember to put it into practice.  As an extra bonus, your audience sometimes comments and adds to your thinking.
  • Take a lead and develop others: helping other people to learn helps you to become more expert at the same time.  By taking a lead in a group of practitioners you strengthen BT, and you also strengthen your own capability to deliver with their mutual support

10% courses and resources
In BT everyone is linked to a profession site in the Academy which provides a wealth of courses and resources for you to develop your skills. This includes online or face to face courses, learning programmes and learning pathways. Sometimes they’ll lead to an accreditation.

  • Profession-recommended resources cover the core skills you need to do your job, and development pathways to help you move forward in your career.
  • Other learning resources:  we have access to huge sets of learning resources you can search to learn about particular topics. This includes everything that has been shared on Sharepoint and the intranet.  The BT Library gives access to lots of external eBooks and research papers. And we have corporate access to external libraries of books and Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Give Back
Learning is not just a personal activity: we are also helping the company to grow and develop its capability. Some of your learning activities involve helping other people and in BT that is called Give Back.

  • Volunteer in the community: as well as building your own experience, your volunteering increases the impact of BT in our communities.
  • Learn through contribution: the resources you share become a permanent, searchable goldmine of information that helps other people to do their jobs quicker and more effectively.
  • Take a lead and develop others:  by taking a lead in a subject group in the Academy you build your own capability, the group’s capability and BT’s capability in that area.

If any of this sounds familiar from my previous blogs, it probably is. What’s exciting is to see this thinking being woven into the structure of how we do things in BT.


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