A learning management system offers companies tremendous benefits when it comes to training employees and developing effective L&D initiatives. One of the many benefits of a learning management system is the fact that you can integrate different learning models and theories into employee training.

learning management system

The benefits of this include the fact that you can experiment until you find the learning theories that resonate most with your employees. Employees also have the opportunity to customize their learning experience. When employees feel like they’re in control of how they’re learning, retention, engagement, and satisfaction are all improved.

The following are some of the many learning theories and models that can be implemented into L&D through a learning management system.

70:20:10 Model

The 70:20:10 model is one that’s often used for professional training and development. This model is based on the concept that 70 percent of knowledge obtained by employees should happen through experiences that occur on the job. 20 percent should come from employees’ interaction with others, and 10 percent should come from formalized education programs.

This model is one of the most widely used in employee education and training, and when talking about its implementation through the use of an LMS, we could refer to it as a blended learning model. In fact, many of the most commonly applied concepts on this list are in some way a blended learning model.

The benefits of this model include the fact that it offers opportunities for formalized education (ideally delivered through a learning management system), but also hands-on experience. This model allows employees to use the knowledge they gain from formalized learning and directly apply it to tasks on the job. Another benefit of this model is the fact that employees receive immediate feedback on performance.

Even for employers that don’t specifically utilize this 70:10:10 model, having elements of on-the-job experience and feedback are important to integrate with effective training programs.

Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Model

Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Model was designed by Donald Kirkpatrick, who served as a president for the American Society for Training and Development. This model was initially introduced in 1959 but has been updated several times throughout the years.

The four levels the model refer:

  1. reaction,
  2. learning,
  3. behavior, and
  4. results.

Reaction, which is level one, measures how employees are reacting to training. This looks at how they feel about the training experience, and whether they found it valuable and engaging. Based on this model, knowing how trainees receive training is important for making changes to future training modules and programs.

Level two is learning. This level is based on measuring how much employee knowledge has increased because of training. This second level of the Kirkpatrick model requires that employers create a specific list of learning objectives before introducing training to employees. Then, how well those objectives were met can be measured. Some of the ways to measure outcomes based on the Kirkpatrick model can include changes in not only knowledge and skills but also attitude.

Level three is behavior, and this is a time where employers look to see how training has led to changed behaviors on the part of employees. Employers are looking at how the provided information is being applied.

Level four is results. This is when employers look at the organizational outcomes that have stemmed from training. Outcomes can be based on employee benefits, business benefits, bottom line benefits or a combination.

Transformational Learning

Transformational learning is an adult learning theory, where there are certain bits of information learners obtain to change their perspective in a larger, deeper way. Regarding instructional design, the goal of a transformational learning approach should be to create experiences that evoke emotions and then ultimately lead to changes in behavior, perspectives, and attitudes. The core of transformational learning is the idea that we all have certain beliefs, but then following a learning experience we see things differently than we did previously.

There are three stages of learning that are part of the transformational approach.

The first state of transformational learning theory is identifying what is referred to as a crisis or dilemma. Learners realize that the information they previously thought to be true isn’t, and then that in turn becomes a trigger for employees to want to learn more. This is an active learning process.

The next stage of learning that falls under the umbrella of transformational learning is establishing relevance to employees at a personal level. This is theoretically when the learner sees what’s in it for them. The establishment of personal relevance is what inspires people to really want to learn. Personal relevance creates motivation.

The third stage is critical thinking. Transformation learning should provide opportunities for critical assessment and reflection, that then leads employees to reexamine their previous beliefs. There should be a sense of independence here, in that employees realize on their own that they need to change their attitudes, beliefs or behavior based on the information presented to them.


The andragogy learning model is based on the idea that adult learners use all of their experiences and build upon them when they’re learning new concepts. This model differentiates adult learners from child learners in six specific ways.

First, adults need to know why they should learn. This theory highlights the idea that adults are internally motivated and they will learn if they see what’s in it for them (similar to transformational learning). The third concept is willingness, so adult learners need to see how something is relevant to want to learn new knowledge.

The fourth part of this model is the idea that adults bring experiences into the learning process, and these experiences are the foundation for how they learn new concepts and ideas. The fifth component is that adults are self-directed and they need to be able to guide their own learning experience. Finally, the sixth step of the andragogy model is that adults learn best when they do. There is a level of relevance in task-oriented learning and problem-solving for adult learners as compared to children learners.

As you can see, a lot of these theories overlap pretty significantly with one another. Bits and pieces of each of these adult learning theories and models and can be integrated with one another to improve the effectiveness of training delivered through a learning management system.