Blended Learning Theory, 70:20:10 and ‘the forgetting curve’ – how it impacts your GMP training for employees and why online GMP training options can help knowledge retention.

Definition of ‘the forgetting curve’: blended learning theory

If you’re investigating GMP online training options versus classroom instruction, you may have already heard about ‘the forgetting curve’. Even if you were once familiar with this term, there’s a likelihood you may have forgotten about the concept over time. The forgetting curve demonstrates how the retention of learned knowledge deteriorates over time; e.g., the common occurrence of knowledge loss after training participation.  The declining retention curve has led to blended learning theories becoming increasingly popular over time; e.g., the 70:20:10 delivery method.

Definition: The forgetting curve is an evidence-based depiction of information retention and the decline of memory in relation to time.  

The forgetting curve graph indicates retention of information decreases exponentially over time once information is initially learned. This is one of the primary reasons blended training solutions offer more effect alternatives to stand-alone classroom instruction sessions or e-learning on its own.

The Forgetting Curve (Graph Illustration)


Blended learning theory for GMP

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) – combatting the forgetting curve to ensure compliance

What this knowledge retention means in terms of GMP training (online or classroom versions):

Even though an employee attended a fantastic GMP training solution, the forgetting curve suggests it may not be effective on its own. In fact, GMP training professionals are constantly dealing with the challenges of improving learners’ retention once they have left the classroom or online GMP training experience. 

Hence, blended learning options offer more than just a convenient training delivery method; they can also increase the effectiveness of both online training courses and classroom based GMP instruction(s).

Effective blended learning methods require a combination of classroom and eLearning modules plus on-the-job instruction.

Knowledge retention is further supported by quizzes and more formal evaluations (including online assessments) to validate knowledge absorption and retention.

GMP Training Solutions: Blended learning experiences (classroom, online GMP training and on-the-job instructions)

Research shows that best-practice blended training methods have more success for data retention than isolated classroom training sessions or e-learning on its own.  The evidence for training program effectiveness affirms that learning is a multi-faceted process rather than an individual event.

  • Cumulative knowledge and skills capacities build up over time
  • Blended learning combines numerous learning modalities including demonstrations, on-the-job training and supervised feedback, classroom-based instruction, reading materials or video courses, multi-media and mixed-media learning modules, and online training options.

What research shows about blended learning theory and data retention in view of ‘the forgetting curve’ blended-learning-definition-and-research-articles

The forgetting curve is one of many reasons that blended learning options, including e-learning packages for GMP and 70:20:10 training strategies, can help your employees stay informed and up to date to meet GMP compliance requirements.

International GMP Training Expert Maria Mylonas:

“What the latest research into training and compliance shows is that blended learning approaches are more effective than single-training solutions such as classroom learning. We should be moving away from single training events to a more holistic learning ecosystem approach comprising various components that work together. It’s this integrated approach to education that will offer the greatest knowledge absorption and adherence levels.”

The 70:20:10 employee training model

Modern blended learning approaches

Integrated approaches to employee training requirements are where the ‘not so new’ buzzword in the training profession comes into play, 70:20:10.

The 70:20:10 model is commonly used to explain how learning “actually” happens in the workplace. The theory is based on research undertaken by the Centre for Creative Leadership. The results of the learning process research demonstrated that:

  • 70% of learning happens through on-the-job experiences (eg. Practical training, problem-solving, stretch assignments)
  • 20% of learning happens from interacting with others (eg. Coaching, mentoring, collaborative learning, social learning)
  • 10% of learning happens from formal educational events (eg. Attending workshops, webinars, conferences, reading and similar activities.)

If you reflect over the last 12 months, have you learned something new? How did you learn it?

I’m sure most of you would have read an article on LinkedIn, watched a YouTube video, watched a webinar, had a colleague teach you something, been mentored by your manager, completed an eLearning module or attended a formal training course. The way you learned something new this year is the reality of 70:20:10, but many organisations still look at training from a compliance perspective instead of building competence in their employees.

To build competence, we need to maximise the effectiveness of our training offering by including activities that go beyond the classroom.

The 70:20:10 model in the GMP environment

With that in mind, what use is the 70:20:10 model in the GMP environment and what implications does it have for training?

70-20-10 training model and GMP training solutions

Applying the 70:20:10 Training and Learning Module to GMP and Compliance Training

Let’s suppose you are challenged to train a production operator and want to apply the 70:20:10 model. Initially, you will start with some formal training consisting of a combination of eLearning, workshops, webinars and similar readily accessible resources which will address the immediate GMP content and skill gap for the new operator and enable them to onboard quickly. The learner will return to their desk and try to remember all of that content for as long as possible but needs to apply their learning quickly on the job by performing tasks.

There will be SOP’s and Work Instructions available to help the learner do their daily tasks and you can partner new employees with a buddy that can act as a role model, provide practical training and give immediate feedback. You may give them a list of groups they should follow on LinkedIn and set up a community of practice where the learner can ask questions in the moment in real-time which fosters collaboration between colleagues and reduces the burden on team leaders and managers to respond to every question. Eventually, when they are deemed experienced, you will encourage them to act as mentors and coaches for new starters, and let’s not forget, all of these learning events need to be documented or they didn’t happen.

When we use 70:20:10 as a model, it provides a way to move beyond designing courses. Instead, we design more holistic, strategic approaches to learning, and we see other options beyond event-based learning interventions.

There is plenty of research that supports the efficacy of on-the-job, social and formal training and it is in our interest to embrace this holistic view of competence development, especially in the GMP environment.

Blended learning experiences in the pharmaceutical & medical device sector

How can PharmOut help you implement blended learning theories in your employee training programs to combat the forgetting curve?

PharmOut understands the effort and time required to develop a high-performing team and that true competence is a combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours that are applied and measured in the workplace. PharmOut can assist you in designing GMP training solutions that are learner-centric and aimed at meeting the demands of a changing regulatory environment. While formal learning structures are a core component of learning design, PharmOut designs the GMP curriculum to take learning beyond the classroom and continue supporting learners back in the workplace. Speak to us about developing your GMP Training strategy, customised GMP competency frameworks and learning pathways.

References: Journal Publications on Blended Learning

Journal:  American Psychological Association (APA PsycNet)

The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature (Means, Toyama, Murphy & Baki 2013).

Teachers College Record, (2013) 115(3), 1-47.
Authors: Means, Barbara Toyama, Yukie Murphy, Robert Baki, Marianne

Publication Date/Issue:  2018 (02/15/2018), 15:3

Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies

Authors: Dziuban, Charles, Graham, Charles R.,  Moskal, Patsy D.,  Norberg, Anders, Sicilia, Nicole

Research Author email: Patsy D. Moskal

Abstract:  This study addressed several outcomes, implications, and possible future directions for blended learning (BL) in higher education in a world where information communication technologies (ICTs) increasingly communicate with each other.

Evidence-based research into the forgetting curve and blended learning modalities

Originally published on 18 August 2017.

Last updated on July 6th, 2023 at 10:28 am

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