This page provides links to resources that look at the importance of informal learning.
Articles in date order, most recent first.
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"Informal learning is the realization that we need not force senior staff and self-directed work professionals into training straightjackets and classrooms hoping to be able to enhance their innate desire for learning and improving their skills and ability to use them in real world applications." Robin Good, 15 June 2006
Added: 15 June 2006
This article draws heavily on Jay Cross' work on informal learning
"People acquire the skills they use at work informally - talking, observing others, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal training and workshops account for only 10% to 20% of what people learn at work. Most corporations over-invest in formal training while leaving the more natural, simple ways we learn to chance." Jay Cross, Informal Learning blog, 20 May 2006
Added: 21 May 2006
An extensive posting on informal learning taken from Jay's upcoming book.
"On-demand information goes beyond being convenient and flexible. Instead, having access to on-demand information is imperative for improving a company's productivity, efficiency and the bottom line." James Sharpe, Chief Learning Officer, May 2006
Added: 10 May 2006
In an on-demand business environment, learning cannot remain an isolated department within an organization.
"Kineo argues that many trainers are failing in their role as learning professionals by ignoring informal learning. Trainers can and should get involved in it, otherwise they are potentially ignoring 80% of the learning in their organisation." Mark Harrison, kineo, January 2006
Added: 22 January 2006
"The free 38 page report focuses on ways to support informal learning and make it more effective. The report sets out 13 practical steps to manage informal learning and to help learners become better informal learners."
"Today, learning is viewed as a continuous cycle that includes both formal experiences (classroom and online courses) and informal experiences, such as collaboration, coaching, feedback and knowledge access. Informal learning takes place continually throughout every organization. The key to supporting performance demands is to capture, share and leverage this informal education." Brenda Wisniewski and Kevin McMahon, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, April 2005
Added: 12 May 2005
As the articles states: "Most organizations have systems in place to manage formal learning. Some also have implemented informal management systems for knowledge and virtual collaboration. But it isn't enough to simply blend formal with informal learning experiences-they must be integrated."
"Ask workers where they learned how to do their jobs, and 80 percent of the time the answer is "at work." Most learning takes place on the job, outside the purview of formal learning. When we do conduct formal training, 80 percent of it is wasted effort: Workshops progress at the pace of the slowest participant, content is dated, the learner needs little of what's being delivered, the method of delivery is not tuned to the needs of the individual worker, motivation is absent, or timing is off. The half-life of newly learned material is three days; if learners don't use it immediately, they lose it." Jay Cross and Tony O'Driscoll, Training Magazine, March 2005
Added: 27 March 2005
As the writers summarise "It all adds up to ... An era of real-time enterprise that will set the 80/20 rule on its head. Changes afoot in commerce, information technology, network interoperability, and how work is organized will wring much (though never all) of the slack out of work. After decades of job stress, frustration, wasted effort, and disengagement, we have an opportunity to rewrite all the rules.
"This report presents the main findings, conclusions and recommendations from a study of informal and unstructured learning in small firms. The research found a wide range of formal and informal learning of different types taking place in the firms participating in the study. Many interviewees talked about the value of prior experience equipping them to do their jobs and the phrases 'trial and error' and 'learning by mistakes' were mentioned frequently. There was also a preference for individual coaching and mentoring, rather than for more structured learning leading to national qualifications." LSDA (Learning & Skills Development Agency), October 2004
Added: 11 November 2004
"An important message from the research for colleges and training providers is that, becausemany SMEs now occupy increasingly specialised markets, there is a narrowing band of generic training needs. A broadening band of specific needs are not being catered for."
"Although more formal forms of instruction such as the classroom and e-learning will be around for years, it's becoming more and more important to watch and harness the more informal methodologies that our students are utilizing. Most of these methods have been around for years, but have gone unnoticed by the training community. If you ask many advanced learners today, they will tell you they are gravitating toward these more informal learning methods and away from traditional ones. Understanding, tracking, creating and encouraging these informal methods of learning can reach a growing population of students you may currently be ignoring or losing touch with altogether." Bob Mosher, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, July 2004
Added: 6 July 2004
"Informal learning has always coexisted with formal learning, and will continue to do so. With the maturation of our learners and the advent of collaboration technologies, informal learning can become a powerful part of a company's robust learning offering."
"Most learning is informal; a network approach makes it easier, more productive and more memorable to meet, share and collaborate." Jay Cross, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, December 2003
Added: 15 December 2003
The importance of networking in learning
"Informal learning accounts for over 75% of the learning taking place in organizations today. Often, the most valuable learning takes place serendipitously, by random chance. Most companies, however, focus only on formal learning programs, losing valuable opportunities and outcomes. To truly understand the learning in your organization you might want to recognize the informal learning already taking place and put in place practices to cultivate and capture more of what people learn. This includes strategies for improving learning opportunities for everyone and tactics for managing and sharing what you know." Marcia Conner, ageless learner
Added: 14 December 2003
A good overview on informal learning
"All of a sudden a number of researchers and policy pundits have rediscovered 'informal learning'. But is there really such a thing? We explore the theory and practice of 'informal learning'" Infed.org, Mark Smith, 1999
Added: 14 December 2003
"Informal learning is effective because it is personal. The individual calls the shots. The learner is responsible. It's real. How different from formal learning, which is imposed by someone else. Workers are pulled to informal learning; formal learning is pushed at them." Jay Cross, Chief Learning Officer, October 2003
Added: 22 October 2003
Some great suggestions and recommendations
"This paper addresses how organizations, particularly business organizations, can get more done. Workers who know more get more accomplished. People who are well connected make greater contributions than those who are not. Employees and partners with more capacity to learn are more versatile in adapting to future conditions. The people who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do." Jay Cross, Internet Time Group, 8 May 2003
Added: 11 May 2003
The subject of informal learning is very close to my heart, and here Jay Cross articulates the case for far more consideration of supporting informal learning within an organisation
"ideas, thinkers and practices within informal education and lifelong learning."
Added: 11 February 2003
Lots and lots of interesting articles on informal education
"Are major corporations spending money wisely on their e-training initiatives? According to a study released last year by CapitalWorks LLC, a human capital management service, those companies funding formalized e-training programs would have been better off spending their money on less costly informal and self-study methods. That's because, according to the study, informal methods were shown to increase employee knowledge and productivity far more than formal educational methods." Tim Kounadis, Hyperwave, 17 July 2001
Added: 27 August 2001
Another article that shows how informal learning methods can be more effective than formal training
"In his book, E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age, Marc Rosenberg, identifies "information" as being an equally important part of learning as "instruction". In this article, I analyze some practical implementations of systems that blend these two aspects of learning-a concept that seems to be catching on with many LMS vendors these days."Maish Nichani, elearningpost, 9 July 2001
Added: 9 July 2001
This article concurs with my own view that information is as important as instruction, and shows how a blended, or integrated learning solution is the answer.