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Factsheet:

Learning methods

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in July 2016.

What are learning methods?

Learning methods may be defined as any interventions deliberately undertaken to help the learning process at individual, team or organisational level.

In rapidly changing business environments, employees need to be able to continue learning and adapting their capabilities to support the organisation’s strategy. Organisations can keep pace with changing needs by looking ahead to define requirements and initiate effective learning interventions that support business objectives.


Various definitions of ‘training’ and ‘learning’ are used within the HR and L&D profession, but broadly they are:

  • Training is an instructor-led, content-based intervention designed to lead to skills or behaviour change.
  • Learning is a self-directed, work-based process that leads to increased adaptive potential (as might be provided by coaching or mentoring opportunities or being part of an online community or personal learning network, for example).
  • Development implies a longer-term or broader process – acquiring skills or knowledge by a range of different means such as coaching, formal and informal learning interventions, education or planned experience.

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  • What are learning methods?
  • Choosing learning and training methods
  • Types of learning methods
  • Workplace-based learning techniques
  • Learning methods away from the workplace
  • Recent developments affecting learning methods
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading 

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