Creating Informal Learning Opportunities for Business Professionals, Part 1

February 13, 2009

pda-lady1Peter Henschel, former director of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL), said: “People are learning all the time, in varied settings and often most effectively in the context of work itself. ‘Training’—formal learning of all kinds—channels some important learning but doesn’t carry the heaviest load. The workhorse of the knowledge economy has been, and continues to be, informal learning.”

The Institute for Research on Learning found that 80% of learning in organizations takes place informally and only 20% takes place formally. Yet, corporations spend 80% of their training budget on formal training and only 20% on informal. Deepak (Dick) Sethi, the CEO of Organic Leadership, said: “Informal learning is effective because it is personal, just-in-time, customized, and the learner is motivated and open to receiving it. It also has greater credibility and relevance.” However, in my experience of nearly 20 years in corporate learning and development, I have observed that implementing informal, just-in-time learning continues to be a challenge in many organizations.

Jay Cross, author of Informal Learning (2007) said: “If your organization is not addressing informal learning, it’s leaving a tremendous amount of learning to chance. Is that okay? Not any longer. This is a knowledge economy.” Social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are some examples of great tools organizations can begin to use to foster informal learning for people who work inside corporations that also offer formal types of learning interventions.

So, how do you create informal learning opportunities? Stay tuned, that’s what I’ll be talking about in Part 2!

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