The Keystone Learning Event Concept

Yeah – Learning Isn’t an Event – Stay Tuned

I’ve been using this concept in almost all of my Curriculum Architecture efforts since the early 1980s. It’s fairly simple:

Training/Learning content on the front end is used to bring everyone to some sort of even keel with their awareness, knowledge and basic skills … and the keystone event will put it all together and provide authentic practice – and the content afterwards is used to reinforce and extend the learning … and battle the Forgetting Curve.


From wikipedia:

A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry arch, the generally round one at the apex of a vault.

This enables providing a lot of less-than Formal on the front end – with a very Formal Keystone Event to bring it all back home – so to speak. To the Performance Competence requirements. To speak more directly about it.

The Keystone Event

Or events.

Intended to provide the Practice with Feedback.

Especially important if the learning on the front end – didn’t include authentic applications exercises. Typical of almost all Informal Learning – there is little if any Practice with Feedback. And learning that “oops, that didn’t work,” is partial feedback at best. Without more specifics about what and why and what to do next time, shaping behavior and/thinking, it’s a very inefficient way to develop anyone. It works for the truly driven IMO, and few otherwise.


Think about taking several generic courses on negotiations, presentations, communications, project management, etc. … and then making those authentic in their applications. The authentic practice.

It’s all about the practice. IMO.

Or Multiple Keystone Events

Sometime using only one Keystone – is too few.

It’s a Design Team decision by the way.

A Design Team of Master Performers – who understand the job and the context so well, so fully, that they are best to make decisions about when and where and how much (practice) is needed. When guided by someone who understands ISD. Or better yet, an ISDer who knows how to guide experts in guiding them collectively to design performance-based and therefore performance impacting Instruction and Information. By design, so to speak.

In the example below … the Keystones (four of them) … also included the Certification/Qualification Tests … all Performance Tests. Bringing closure to that Phase of Learning … per the Path … and the downselected training in someone’s actual plan. To make it both relevant and timely.


Think about using the Keystone Learning Event Concept in your next Learning Path/Menu.

The real critical thing for me – is to provide practice – authentic enough practice – sooner rather than later.

But not too early either. It’s tricky when I/You don’t understand the performance requirements to a nuanced level. Which is why it’s best to use a Group Process to capture the Voice of the Master Performers and their Work. IMO. And in my professional experience, since first doing so in 1979.

And of course, Design is all about – all dependant on – the Analysis. IMO.

For More

You can search for more on the AT&T example above – done for Product Managers in the mid 1980s. Search on: Product Managers.

Or you can start with this prior post.

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