L&D Best Practices

Filip Dochy on the Genesis of the HILL Model

Duration 3 minutes Modified on
Interview Filip Dochy

Interview of Filip Dochy, pedagogical designer and learning & development expert in corporate environments, has succeeded in bringing impactful learning to life. In this interview, he tells us about the beginnings of the HILL model and blended learning.

Filip Dochy, how did the HILL project originate?

It all started a few years ago and was the fruit of 25 years of research on the impact of learning strategies within companies. My research associate Mien Segers and I found that this impact was surprisingly low. Learners only retained between 5 and 15% of the content presented to them during training. So we decided to create a new learning model based on scientific research. We gathered all the studies we could find worldwide on the impact of learning strategies (in the United States, studies by Wieman and Freeman; and in Europe, the Schneider and Preckel study (2017), which involved over 2 million learners), not only in the field of learning sciences, but also in cognitive psychology and context-specific learning.

We carried out a systematic review of these studies to uncover which variables and factors had an impact on the quality of learning, and those with a potential to increase impact. We came up with seven “building blocks” for high-impact learning.

In addition to scientific corpora, we also examined learning practices within businesses and asked learners to describe the best learning experience they had ever had. In other words, at which point in their life had they learned the most? We asked participants to provide dates, precise examples, and characteristic features. Results showed that learning highpoints often coincided with interactive moments with other people, including knowledge sharing between peers.

We found that these features were a reflection of the seven building blocks for high-impact learning.

How did the project become reality?

Delving into scientific research guided us toward possible avenues for putting the project into action. We also surveyed a considerable number of trainers and learners within companies to discover how these seven basic components were applied. Thanks to this exercise, we were able to draw up a list of tips for implementation: “The HILL model in practice: tips and guidelines.”

We identified the impact associated with each of these building blocks and found that impact was exponentially higher when all factors were taken into account in global digital training strategies. In other words, the more these components are used and integrated, the stronger the impact.

Three additional rules must also be kept in mind:

How has CrossKnowledge benefitted from the HILL model?

In the workplace, people are trained as if they were at school: through a methodology which produces very low impact rates (5-15%). But designing better learning management systems is more than possible, and CrossKnowledge is a successful example of this.

In 2003, businesses went crazy for remote learning, convinced it was the training miracle that would save them time and money, especially in regards to training the workforce. But 10 years later, companies have come to terms with the realization that e-learning just hasn’t produced those desired results. And this is mainly because learners were so disengaged. CrossKnowledge agrees that the question that needs to be addressed now is how to maintain engagement and enthusiasm among trainees. The answer is to create blended learning content that includes the seven high-impact learning building blocks.

This solution inspired Blendedx and its array of teaching activities. What I particularly like about the blended learning approach is that it combines online training with offline methods — such as face-to-face training — for rich interactions and greater learner engagement.

Also, being able to orchestrate group dynamics, collaboration, regular interaction and exchange from a single platform is essential. In addition to stimulating learner engagement, these elements are useful for implementing the seven basic components. Last but not least, content must be varied and relevant. Learners must be able to apply their newly-acquired skills to their professional responsibilities.

And finally, what should the future of learning and development look like to you?

In my opinion, companies should offer blended training sessions with a limited number of participants? An extra focus on interaction and informal learning opportunities should be considered as well. Training also needs to take on a more important role in the workplace. Learners should feel as though they have control over the content in their training programs.