Sign in / Register
CONTACT US:(801) 537-7800

The History of Training and Development

Ever wondered where microlearning came from, or when gamification started, or who came up with the idea to role play? Learning and development has a long and interesting history spanning millennia. So we put together the infographic timeline to walk you through the History of Training and Development.

Learn how the industry has evolved to meet the changing needs of business and learners, and see how training pros have been finding solutions to tough problems for hundreds of years.

Want to learn more about training trends from the last five years? Download our ebook.

  • Antiquity through pre-1800s: apprenticeship and on-the-job training.
  • 1812: Kriegsspiel (wargame) developed to train Prussian and German armies
  • 1872: Hoe and Company establishes the first documented factory school to train machinists and the need for quicker training driven by the industrial revolutions meant many companies soon followed suit with their own factory schools.
  • 1892: JohnH. Patterson, the founder of the National Cash Register Company, creates the first widespread sales training by giving his sales team the NCR primer. Vestibule training was also introduced during the late 1800s, which combines the strengths of classroom and on-the-job methods in smaller classrooms. 
  • 1910: Dr. J. L. Moreno designed the first role-playing techniques. However, it would be another 20 years before they started seeing wider use.
  • 1911: Frederick Taylor published a book on his method of productivity, called scientific management. He studied the motion and time use of employees to develop ways of doing work that reduced non-productive time.
  • 1917: Charles R. Allen creates the “Show, Tell, Do and Check” method of training in response to an increased need for shipyard workers. This efficiently walked workers through complex processes in a way that escalated responsibility with the capability and allowed for feedback
  • Furthermore, the First World War time period created a serious need for more defense workers and manufacturing. Training played a critical part in filling that need as many experienced workers were enlisting. 
  • 1941: Following the United States’ entry job instruction training(JIT), a systematic on-the-job training method that put learners at ease, explained the job had learners explain and demonstrate each step, then regularly followed up with inspections and evaluations. JIT also contributed to the creation of job aids.
  • 1942: The American Society of Training Directors was founded. The organization later changed its name to the American Society for Training and Development, and currently goes by Association for Talent Development.
  • The 1950s: Following the World Wards, companies wanted a way to train people efficiently and reduce expenses while still getting high instructional value. Individualized instruction became prominent which replaced teachers with material that broke the learning into small steps with an activity afterward to check comprehension. This and reinforcement behavior research opened the door for different methods of practicing new skills.  
  • 1954: Donald Kirkpatrick first outlines the Four Levels of Learning Evaluation giving learning and development professionals one of the first ways to evaluate training programs. 
  • 1956: Benjamin Bloom led a committee in the publication of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, which helped trainers better match the information to instructional methods.
  • The 1950s & 1960s: Instructional System Design was born from a desire to bring the various pieces of the instructional design process into an effective system. As computers progressed in the 1960s, virtual reality begins to develop, although it wouldn’t see widespread interest for many decades.
  • 1960: First computer-assisted instruction launches at the University of Illinois with the PLATO system. Albert Bandura begins writing observational learning, laying the foundation for modern social learning. 
  • 1961: McDonald’s founds Hamburger University, the first corporate university. 
  • 1962: The concept of instructional design was first articulated by Rober Glaser. Training Magazine begins publication.
  • 1970: Malcolm Knowles originates the term informal learning.
  • 1983: Howard Gardner introduces the theory of multiple intelligences.
  • 1984: ADDIE evolves and becomes more flexible and less linear.
  • 1989: AT&T launches the first electronic performance support system, an updated version of job aids that came with the benefit that assets could be immediately updated for all people.
  • The 1980s and 1990s: Computer-based training uses the methods of individualized instruction to provide instruction to employees on computers.
  • The mid to late 1990s: Blended learning grows as people realize eLearning and computer-based training are not silver bullets. The term eLearning debuts, but grows in popularity when Jay Cross begins using it in 2004. eLearning is the latest interaction of computer-based training and is typically accessed online. eLearning often encompasses other, more niche delivery training methods of training techniques.
  • The early 2000s: Mobile learning enters the training lexicon at the beginning of the new century, but mobile learning doesn’t really start gaining traction until the explosion of personal smartphones in the mid to late 2000s. In addition, chunking gets rebranded as microlearning.
  • 2002: Nick Pelling coins the term gamification, although people have been using gaming elements in many applications for two centuries.
  • 2008: MOOCs start seeing use in distance education and the training industry isn’t far behind.
  • The mid to late 2000s: The success of personal social networking catches the attention of training departments, and the concept of social learning takes on new dimensions.