Thursday, January 26, 2006

Informal learning

Just given talk at Learning Technologies on aforementioned subject. Gareth Jones from the BBC followed, with some excellent examples of blogs, wikis and Web 2.0 stuff, and showed that at least one major organisation in the UK is making the effort on this front.

Thought - Why spend all our budgets on formal learning when we know that most learning is informal?

I don't want to pit formal learning against informal learning. It's simply a matter of balance. We have far too much time, money and effort spent on the formal side, while the informal side receives little or no attention. It's not that there's a lack of ideas and opportunitiess at relatively low cost.

Level 1 - Word of mouth
1. Open office structure
2. Proximity and line of sight seating
3. Non-departmental seating
4. Staff area with relevant magazines
5. Budget for staff get-togethers
6. Brown bag lunches
7. Book club/Budget for books on Amazon

Level 2 - Word of mouse
1. Skills database or profiles
2. Intranet with workflow structure and linked learning
3. Online quality system linked to workflow
4. EPSS software
5. Email
6. Instant messenger
7. Discussion boards
8. Blogs
9. Wikis
10. Podcasting
11. Syndication


Anonymous said...

Just read your Epic paper on informal learning. I was interested in the bit where you claimed that informal learning might be more successful if any involvement of the training department wasn't mentioned - as it might put people off! I can see this, but can't now see why trainers would have any interest in sponsoring/suporting the approach. If informal learning is invisible, doesn't this threaten the livelihood (or at least the egos) of teachers/trainers. Aren't they going to resist, at least covertly?

Anonymous said...

I think one reason why organisations are interested in formal rather than informal learning comes down to control and measurement: organisations are set up as systems of control, and informal learning doesn't fit into their mindset at all.

In particular, they can't measure it - they don't know who has learnt or knows what, or whether they know what is required for the (formal) job that they do.

So they push employees through the system so that managers can tick a box - without actually thinking whether their staff are learning what is necessary, and nor whether they are then acting on what they have learnt.

Donald Clark said...

Absolutely right. To concentrate on the 'bums on seats' measure (your ticks in boxes)is to concentrate on the wrong end of the learner. I also think that informal learning can be evaluated. We just have to get away from the Kirkpatrick nonsense and look at qualitative analysis through simpler and more relevant measures.