From Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Informal learning vs. formal learning

As researchers come to understand informal learning, many different definitions have been formed. Here are definitions for both informal and formal learning:

Informal Learning

"Informal learning as anything that is not easily recognizable as formal training and performance support, such as organized classes, workshops, individualized instruction and job aids." [1] "The unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs. It can happen intentionally or inadvertently." [2] "The learner sets the goals and objectives. Learning is not necessarily structured in terms of time and effort; it is often incidental and unlikely to lead to certification." [3]

The following definition for informal learning will be used as a reference for this wiki: "Informal learning is any activity involving the pursuit of understanding, knowledge or skill which occurs without the presence of externally imposed curricular" or pressure. [4]

Formal Learning

Here are definitions on formal learning that will help you understand the concept: "Official, scheduled, and it teaches a curriculum. It means learning through a course online or in a classroom." [2] "Learning objectives are set by the training department, which also provides the learning product. Formal learning often leads to certification" [3] "Education or training which is formally structured and sequentially organized, in which learners follow a program of study or a series of experiences planned and directed by a teacher or trainer and generally leading to some formal recognition of educational performance." [4]

Informal Learning

Benefits of informal learning

Informal learning leads to increased proficiency. [5] That is the overall goal for every individual and organization – continuous improvement. Informal learning can help a new employee develop and help them get over the initial hump. [6] Informal learning can support or supplant formal learning at a cost savings to organizations. [7] In a seven country study focusing on interactive computer training for small businesses, it was discovered that informal learning was being used more than the formal training products produced. [8] Research results indicate that managers learned a majority of core tasks through informal learning. [5] "Adult learning theories, therefore, suggest adults may better transfer new learning when informally embedded in work and experience." [9]

Characteristics of informal learning

Informal learning is based on a combination of need, motivation, and opportunity. [10] Informal learning may be planned or unplanned and may not even be recognized by the learner. [11] Informal learning does not have exams, can be accomplished in private, can be accomplished with little preparation or notice, and is associated with a positive learning attitude. [7] Informal learning may take on these characteristics:

  • just in time
  • spontaneous
  • incidential
  • experiential
  • contextual
  • individualized - adjusted to the task at hand
  • personal
  • chunked
  • limited in scope
  • may be institutional or not
  • not classroom-based (but may be encouraged)
  • student-based
  • not structured
  • may be supported by organization or not
  • normal day-to-day experiences
  • some organizations may provide time, mentors, and structure to informal learning
  • planned or unplanned
  • expected or unexpected
  • self-planned or organizational initiated
  • driven by a need [9], [2], [1], [12]

Reasons why informal learning takes place

Learning occurs when individuals encounter non-routine situations, in other words, they have a problem to solve or an obstacle to overcome. [12] Informal learning is a cyclic process of responding to a trigger, taking action, and assessing the success before starting another round. [13] Informal learning begins with an unresolved problem and a trigger; this trigger may be internal or external, it is typically associated with a problem to solve. [13], [10]

Informal learning environment

Much of the on-the-job training is spent in informal learning between formal trainings. [14] People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. [15] Informal learning can occur at any time and place, but there must be a reason to learn. [12] The situation or environment where the individual is found serves as the "classroom" for informal learning. Informal learning takes place in a natural environment and not in a sterile classroom. [16] Informal or self-directed learning is natural compared to the controlled environment of the classroom; however, learners will take advantage of all resources to include group session and formal learning. [12] "Looked at over time, learning is trending toward the user and the moment of need." [17]

Challenges for implementing informal learning

Organizations realize there is great benefit for informal learning as a training tool, but they are not sure how to make it happen. [13], [18] Measuring informal learning is difficult because of varied content and methods; additionally, it is not easily observed and occurs in a haphazard way. [13], [3] Informal learning can be hampered by "blindspots" to what is needed or how to approach learning. [10] It can also be time consuming. [19] As a result, it is hard to develop an informal learning program because it is often done behind the scenes. [12] There are challenges in leveraging informal learning to include the need to develop the right tools, requires management buy-in, and need to change the culture. [20]

Informal learning success

Informal learning can be fostered by creating an organization setting that accepts and encourages informal learning. [7], [5] Informal learning in an organization should have little structure and it must be voluntary but encouraged. Informal learning can enhance the operations of a person, group, or organization; however, it must be clearly communicated to individuals who are decision makers. [12]

Informal learning must be supported by the assistance of others. [12] Collaboration increases the chance for informal learning. [13]

Informal learning needs to be integrated into the current formal learning strategies. [19] Informal learning should be included in an individual's learning plan. [20] Informal learners need to learn how to plan and execute their own learning. [13] Organizational trainer should contribute resources and content relative to informal learning. They also need to provide tools to facilitate informal learning. [19] Technology has made informal learning a real possibility. [2]

Informal learning networks

Informal learning is shaped by informal organizational networks. [21] A key to informal learning is social connections, it is important for learners to find key knowledge holders. [22] Informal learning networks bring communities of learners together on a common topic of interest. [23] Informal learning networks take the form in various media from newsletters to online discussion boards.

More information on this topic

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hoffman, B. (2003). Informal learning: Managing the training function. Alexandria, Va.: ASTD. Retrieved from http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com/1562863908, p. 1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Geiman, D., & Dooley, M. (2011). The Influence of Informal Learning on Staff Performance. Corrections Today, 73(4), 24 – 26. p. 24.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Mattox, J. R. (2012). Measuring the Effectiveness of Informal Learning Methodologies. T+D, 66(2), 48 – 53. P. 50.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Livingstone, D. (2001). Adults’ informal learning: definitions, findings, gaps and future research. Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1807/2735 p. 4.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Enos, M. D., Kehrhahn, M. T., & Bell, A. (2003). Informal learning and the transfer of learning: How managers develop proficiency. Human Resources Development Quarterly, 14(4), 369–387.
  6. Hamilton, M. (2008). No Jacket Required: Informal Learning’s Role in Development. Chief Learning Officer, 7(5), 46 – 49.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Bell, C. R. (1977). Informal learning in organizations. Personnel J, (6), 280.
  8. Attwell, G. (2006, June 1). Personal learning environments. The Bazaar. Retrieved from http://project.bazaar.org/2006/06/01/personal-learning-environments/
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bickmore, D. L. (2012). Professional learning experiences and administrator practice: is there a connection?. Professional Development in Education, 38(1), 95 – 112. p. 97.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (2001). Informal and incidental learning. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (89), 25.
  11. Schulz, M., & Roßnagel, C. S. (2010). Informal workplace learning: An exploration of age differences in learning competence. Learning and Instruction, 20(5), 383–399. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2009.03.003
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Marsick, V., & Watkins, K. (1990). Informal and incidental learning in the workplace. New York: Routledge.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Marsick, V. J., & Volpe, M. (1999). The nature and need for informal learning. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 1(3), 1–9. doi:10.1177/152342239900100302
  14. Bozarth, J. (2010). Social media for trainers: Techniques for enhancing and extending learning. San Francisco, Calif.: Pfeiffer.
  15. New Media Consortium. (2012). The NMC horizon report: 2012 higher education edition (p. 38). Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/system/files/pubs/1328995195/2012-Horizon-Report-HE.pdf
  16. Watkins, K. E., & Marsick, V. J. (1992). Towards a theory of informal and incidental learning in organizations. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 11(4), 287 – 300.
  17. Galagan, P. (2010). Unformal, the new normal? T+D, 64(9), 29 – 31. p. 31.
  18. Paradise, A. (2008). Informal Learning: Overlooked or Overhyped?. T+D, 62(7), 52 – 53.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Walters, G. (2009). Learning integration: Can informal learning be formalised?. Training Journal, 51 – 54.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Belliveau, V. (2010). The industrialisation of informal learning. Training Journal, 50 – 53.
  21. Buchen, I. H. (2008). Contradiction or Paradox? T+D, 62(9), 48 – 51.
  22. Cross, J. (2007). Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  23. Harasim, L., Hiltz, S. R., Teles, L., & Turoff, M. (1995). Learning networks: A field guide to teaching and learning online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5 | Section 6