Informal Learning becomes Formal

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  • In late September, the New York Times ran a cartoon in The Week in Review that showed two guys standing under a sign that read “Wall Street.” A tiny wave is at the far right. In the second panel, the wave has grown to massive size. In the third panel, the wave washes over the two guys. In the final panel, one of the guys, now treading water, says, “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.”

    Last week I got an email asking if I had a copy of the cartoon, which I’d described in a blog post. Unfortunately, I do not. But I chuckled at the source of the request: the official library of the Federal Reserve Board.

    Heh.

  • Purwadi Santoso

    I think the current schooling system, something what we are doing now is no longer relevant with this trends. The meaning of school will go back to its phylosophical glossary. Everything informal is personal and unique. And education must be done informally.

  • Maria Pickles

    I am a Manager in a vocational educational and training Institute in Australia. I find this very interesting. I have been thinking lately that the challenge for us for the next few years is to move into informal learning particularly as this is the only way we can facilitate learning that is current.
    We cannot expect our teachers and systems to maintain currency, and indeed they don’t, however we can facilitate current learning content through using technology and linking with real enterprises and research from all over the world.

    I also think this is the most practical approach also to meet the rate of change we will experience over the next few years. No one knows the answers to the current economic and environmental crises. No doubt these will be discovered or poor past solutions ( like nuclear) will be put into place. I think it is very important to give our youth an opportunity we did not have before of exposing some solutions using technology, solutions that would previously been covered up for a range of political and economic reasons.

  • William J. Ryan

    We are creating links to organized and existing training modules (small chunks) from procedure documents – informal training can leverage existing work easily and quickly which is good for all!

  • Lisa Maurer

    I am just beginning my foray into informal learning. I am an instructional designer who utilizes Department of Defense documentation to systematically design training. One key step is media selection. I am trying to get my head around how the media selection process might point to certain topics that would best be facilitated through informal or social learning. Typically the media selection process would point to ILT, or CBT or training devices, etc. How does informal learning fit into all of this, because the media that make podcasting, wikis, etc. are really what is facilitating the human conversation. Any thoughts?

  • Thank you for this article. My company offers management & leadership development to the enterprise using an approach that lies between informal learning and more formally structure training. Explaining whey this approach is effective compared to other options can be an uphill battle! Please keep researching and writing about this topic!

  • nuphero

    I can’t believe that. This is actually one of the best article about learning I’ve read. The concept “informal learning becomes formal” is definitely true. But it has too few comments. Thanks you very much for useful information.

  • Mary L. Salisbury

    Great information. Please direct me to your 2008 study indicating “80% of all corporate learning takes place through on-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers (estimated data collected from over 1,100 L&D managers late in 2008)” I would like to read the study.

    Thank you

    M.L.Salisbury RN

  • Steve

    Yikes. I worry about organizations that displace all of their traditionally formal S&K solutions and shoulder the performer with the responsibility of acquisition. This sounds like a recipe for disaster. I also worry about a displacing shift within any organization from traditional sources to a completely formalized ‘assistive coach / cultivator available’ model without some contextual evaluation of the shift.

    Industry has a history of adopting trends. People listen to these trends without really evaluating how well they will apply in their circumstances, particularly if $$$ savings is the driver. We see the results of a still immature eLearning industry that continues to tout the eRevolution as the best thing out there. Many, perhaps most, still aren’t doing it right and they have vendors to support this misaligned level of implementation.

    Maybe there should be some additional steps for those organizations making the leap:

    1. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Technology and faith won’t fix all of your problems. Realize this up front and do what’s best for your circumstances.

    2. Redefine a few roles on a small scale in opportune places. You want to build a culture that propagates the right attitudes. Shutting down the old and trying to force in the new isn’t going to make a lasting change. Simply redefining someones role doesn’t make them valuable in the new role. Significant growth may be required for the role change, it might mean… training.

    3. Be wary of technology solutions. Don’t force a new burden onto your users. Challenge vendors to back up their claims. Do your research and start small. Don’t buy into the flavor of the month – think for yourself.

    4. Evaluate. Evaluate early. Identify the data you want / need to collect from your control groups and pay attention to the results. If the results say that the change causes or projects a performance degradation, change it. Expect to see these things and challenge yourself to be ready to say ‘this might not work as planned, is everyone prepared to commit to whatever is right – whatever that looks like?’