Capturing on-the-job learning

Hello there

I'm sure I've read a lot of white papers on the topic, but I'd be interested in hearing what you, real people, do to capture any on-the-job learning that takes place within an organisation. 

We haven't got an LMS yet - probably going to get this in Q2, Q3 next year and I don't yet know what it'll look like - so I'd be intrigued to learn what methods you have come up with especially if you haven't got a system. We do use an old HR system where all the training records are entered, too, but it's not great in this respect as the information you can enter is quite limited.

I've just received a list of training a new team member received, and it's great, and he's learned a lot, but, unfortunately, this will not show anywhere. It made me wonder if somebody here has got a magic trick for this.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Best regards


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  • Well worth taking a look at Paul's book Liisa on Informal Learning at Work. He wouldn't promote it (but I will), I'm sure there will be some useful thoughts in there around this.

    • Just read it yesterday Mike! :) 

      • Thanks :-)

        If you have any questions, do feel free to get in touch directly. I am happy to help.

        Cheers, Paul

  • Hi Lisa,

    I like Mike’s questions. Return to these and really think about them.

    "Is the onus on the organisation or individuals to capture on-the-job learning - what's the purpose of capturing this information?
    How will it be used and what’s the 'so what'? "

    The majority of what people learn in order to do their jobs will go undetected. You cannot capture most of the informal learning that happens, primarily because people doing it don’t even know they are doing it. That kind of learning is a side effect of work, and we are no more aware of it than of the air we breathe. So all you can capture is the formal learning and the ‘quasi-formal’ learning. And even then, you’re only recording events, not learning. Just because someone was coached by an SME does not mean that have actually learnt anything. It just means the event ‘coached by an SME’ took place.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with recording the event, provided you know why you are doing it, and there is some larger outcome you are seeking. For example, you may just be trying to prove a point to both managers and staff in an organisation that learning does indeed happen outside the classroom.

    Cheers, Paul

    • Hi Paul

      Thanks for taking the time to reply.

      One aspect that I'm trying to 'battle', if you like, is the unrealistic expectations by the Board that every person in the business receives 'training' - at one point, it was suggested that everyone should get 10 days of personal development a year! Luckily, we managed to change this. This year, the average is 1.5 days of personal or professional training relevant to the job role. And there's nothing wrong with that and I'm grateful that training is appreciated here, but I guess what I would like to show is that not all 'training' is formal training. That's the reason I'm pondering about capturing the learning that takes place all the time, for everyone.

      I appreciate that most learning is not even seen as learning and goes unnoticed. However, if I had a method of recording, say, even half of it, it would go a long way to showing to the owner-directors that learning is not the same as attending a training course. 

      I think it would also be a great way for people to realise how much they are already developing themselves. I'm trying to think of ways of widening the old and deep-rooted concept that there is no time for personal and professional development.

      Perhaps I'm asking a question that doesn't actually have an answer, but, as you say, some of the questions here have made me think of aspects of it I hadn't before, so I'm grateful for all the comments and thoughts!



      • Hi Lisa,

        I find it fascinating to see the polarity between the senior teams in some organisations in terms of their attitude towards L&D.

        On the one hand is your experience where they are insisting on a significant amount of traditional training because they believe that’s the right thing to do, and are bought into the idea of a learning organisation without understanding what that means. They are beguiled by the belief that training = learning = performance.

        At the other extreme are those organisations that do no training at all, often not even the minimum of compliance training that is legally required. They tend to operate on the assumption that people can do the job, or learn to do the job as they go along, and if they cannot, then they need different people.

        And as is often the case, the extremes are not healthy places to be.

        I agree with Mike’s suggestion to start educating people, and the senior team on the realities of how people learn by using the information from the Towards Maturity reports (both Benchmark and Learner Voice). Also, when the 70:20:10 concept is explained to senior people, there are very few who can deny it. In a sense, it makes obvious what they have ‘known’ all along, but never stopped to think about it.  It also gives them a face saving way of backing off from their demands for formal training by acknowledging this ‘new and progressive’ thinking.

        Depending on the internal politics, and the ‘brand’ of L&D, educating the senior team on this may be difficult. Will they listen to you? If not, who would they listen to?

        Cheers, Paul

  • I was in your position Liisa in a traditional organisation. I wanted to capture all the learning that was peer-to-peer and also that was done by departmental trainers. I had the 12 dept. trainers meet with me every month and gave them a printed blank training sheet that they had to fill in and bring with them to the meeting. It had to include anything anyone did where they learned something. Date, time it took, who was the trainer, who was the learner, what they learned. This was hospitality so it might read '20 mins, showed trainee how to use the coffee machine and tested knowledge, trainee passed.' 

    I never scanned these in or put them in an excel spreadsheet as no one but me was interested in the data. I keep them neatly in a file and could flick through and show other departments in order to share best practice, or to help a new departmental trainer with what to do.

    Most of them put it on their wall (I asked them all to create a learning noticeboard they could own) and asked the team to make their own notes, and they would keep asking at daily briefings.

    That helped me to record training hours, which I took from almost zero to 300 a month. Not every department was measured, just front of house. I guess it was my first go at measuring 70:20:10!

    • Hi Celia, thanks for your reply. I like the fact you were able to demonstrate training hours going up from zero to 300!

      This is certainly something I can think about for next year - or a variation of that, considering that I haven't got any department trainers: there's only me! Hmm interesting; I will need to put my thinking cap on. Thanks Celia!

  • Hi Liisa,

    Some great comments here.

    Is the onus on the organisation or individuals to capture on-the-job learning - what's the purpose of capturing this information?

    How will it be used and whats the 'so what'? 


    • Hi Mike

      Thanks for posing the question - it made me think!

      I guess ultimately I'm looking for a method that the individuals can own, but, to be honest, I think we are still a long way from that. What I'm personally looking for is finding a method to capture all the informal learning that is going on in and around the business, to be able to show this as added value to the business. Learning is still pretty much conceived as attending a training course here, and I'd like to be able to demonstrate the amount of learning that is happening and celebrate that as a success!

      A bit tall order, I know, but like you say, Mike, lots of food for thought already amongst the answers here.

      Does that clarify?


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