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informal learning

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 1 month ago

What's so great about informal learning?

Topic begun by Suzanne

 

Why does everyone think informal learning is so great? Informal learning is like a huge game of telephone. One person tells another person who tells someone else. Each person adds their own biases. Mis-information gets passed along. That is why we formalized the process.

Suzanne: Great question and some thought provoking ideas. I share your concern that we may get to focused on the "new thing" of informal learning and lose the real value that can and should come from formal learning. Do you really want new employees choosing what corporate policies they'll learn and then utilizing only their cube farm neighbor to flesh out their knowledge? I don't think so. In the case of standardized information and processes, formal learning wins hands down.

 

However, what about determining if your project team colleague is worthy of your trust before you share that you may not be able to deliver on a milestone? Where do you find out what matters the most to each member of the finance committee so you can better prepare your presentation for that innovative, yet controversial new project? This is where informal learning is the only path. The question is, can we help learners be better at creating and leveraging these learning opportunities? Can we make access to these situations a bit easier? Can we measure them? - Dave Lee

 

Actually, I don't believe informal learning is all bad. All our hopes are on informal learning because of formal learning's flaws. We use formal learning to spray information at as many people as possible for the least amount of money.

 

Instead of throwing away formal learning, let's take the best of the formal and informal processes.

I think we're all being a bit too hard on ourselves. Formal learning isn't flawed. Sometimes we over apply it. But until recently, there never was an acceptance that a learning group in a company had any alternative resources. I prefer to think, as you do, of it as informal learning adding to our ability to adjust our offerings to better fit the learning need and situation. Embracing Informal Learning shouldn't infer a negation of Formal Learning. Dave Lee

Comments (2)

Dave Lee said

at 3:46 pm on Aug 10, 2006

Suzanne: Great question and some thought provoking ideas. I share your concern that we may get to focused on the "new thing" of informal learning and lose the real value that can and should come from formal learning. Do you really want new employees choosing what corporate policies they'll learn and then utilizing only their cube farm neighbor to flesh out their knowledge? I don't think so. In the case of standardized information and processes, formal learning wins hands down.

However, what about determining if your project team colleague is worthy of your trust before you share that you may not be able to deliver on a milestone? Where do you find out what matters the most to each member of the finance committee so you can better prepare your presentation for that innovative, yet controversial new project? This is where informal learning is the only path. The question is, can we help learners be better at creating and leveraging these learning opportunities? Can we make access to these situations a bit easier? Can we measure them?

Anonymous said

at 5:59 am on Jun 20, 2007

Hello Suzanne,

I'll take a stab at this. My perspective is as a non-education professional; by that I mean that the training industry is not my primary vocation. Having said that my point is that I'm un-indoctrinated in any particular methodology or approach regarding the delivery or development of education.

Bottom line; I view learning content as data - the terms formal and informal learning have been around for some years in the context of this industry, not sure who coined it but I started using it in 2001 as a way to help illustrate the fundmental difference in most of the available content.

Informal learning is somewhat like unstructured data but not entirely. The best example I can think of is perhaps an Mp3 audio recording. You can embed metadata within it that later could allow you to place it within an ontology making it possible later to mix and match with a dynmaic curriculum map. The MP3 could also be structured in the sense that you could break the topic down into smaller chunks, say 3 to 5 minutes each. MP3's are super easy to produce, and the format is universal. Despite this flexibility and appeal the education community has been slow to adopt it.

For example - why on earth do we have lecture halls at universities where lower level classes have to sit and endure boring lectures they can barely hear? Those facilities can be eliminated now and repurposed by making all audio lectures available online, saving $'s and allowing the institution to manage even more students. The power of informal content is its impact to the socio-economic assumptions attached to "formal education" - it reduces costs, expands the universe of available knowledge and changes all notions regarding participation and collaboration.

It is the future and it is already being adopted by the masses even while most educators continue to ignore it...

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