<via > elearningpost
I followed a link from elearning post to an article entitled “Informal Learning: A Sound Investment” by Jay Cross. It is a really good read and hits home for me.
First, he points out the meaning and role for the learner as regards informal learning.
“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.”
Then he hones in on defining informal learning.
“It’s all a matter of learning, but it’s not the sort of learning that is the province of training departments, workshops and classrooms. At work we learn more in the break room than in the classroom. We discover how to do our jobs through informal learning-Â¨observing others, asking the person in the next cubicle, calling the help desk, trial and error and simply working with people in the know. Formal learning classes and workshops and online events is the source of only 10 percent to 20 percent of what we learn at work.”
Next, he gives specifics of what we should be doing.
Help workers improve their learning skills:
Explicitly teach workers how to learn.
Support opportunities for meta-learning.
Share ways others have learned subjects.
Enlist learning coaches to encourage reflection.
Calculate lifetime value of a learning “customer.”
Explain the know-who, know-how framework.
And then a step-by step of how to create this learning culture.
Create a supportive organizational culture:
Set up a budget for informal learning. (There’s no free lunch.)
Don’t confuse “informal” with “random” or “optional.”
Publish a statement of support for informal learning.
Position learning as a growth experience.
Conduct a learning culture audit.
Add learning and teaching goals to job descriptions.
Consider all-in cost of turnover and of not growing your own.
Support innovation (which requires making failure “OK”).
Encourage learning relationships.
Support participation in professional communities of practice.
Boy, Jay Cross has a way with words and I wish school systems could get this message. Informal learning is a sound investment. When I think of all the time I have spent in inservices that were just sort of thrown together to fulfill some requirement at the time, I cringe. A few years back I took an intensive year long course called “NeuroLingusitic Programming”. Those fancy words basically boiled down to learning how people learn. I got my certification and learned a lot in the process. It was a group of non-educators, some really off the wall type of people and I was definitely not in my comfort zone. I was motivated to learn though because the focus was on ‘how people learn.” Jay’s article made me think about how little time we actually spend with students in school on “how they learn” and how important it is to focus on “what works”, not “what is NOT working.” Sharing strategies that work, encouraging reflection, talking about how they learn and making sure as Jay says “not to confuse “informal” with “random” or “optional”.
Weblogs can be one tool to perhaps effect change in our way of thinking and teaching. I have found when I can really get a group going and involved they will lead you to what they are truly interested in learning. We can take that interest and teach them to write and think and make connections that they could not in the past. Writing becomes important. It makes me want to think long and hard about ways we can really put this tool in the hands of students so that they can use them for their own learning journeys. We need to think about just how we can more effectively weave this informal learning into our learning journeys with students. There’s the challenge.