The rise of informal learning
It is technology-enabled developments, such as e-learning, social networking and online gaming/gamification that are ushering in a new era of learning known as informal learning.
Did you know that over 70% of what we learn in life and at work is learned informally? While we could devote a whole separate paper to informal learning, as an overview it tends to include a number of specific characteristic. Find out more here:
- Informal learning tends to take place outside traditional training establishments, such as the classroom or training centre;
- Informal learning does not tend to follow a specific curriculum;
- Informal learning puts greater control in the hands of the learner to chart their own learning path; and
- Informal learning arises from the activities and interests of individuals and groups.
Informal learning also offers greater accessibility to learners. No longer are you dependent on HR giving you the nod and releasing the necessary budget for training. You can simply start to access your learning via your tablet or mobile phone. Furthermore, with technology and the Internet providing an endless source of knowledge, learners can look to a variety of sources to bolster their knowledge.
Today, informal learning is viewed by employees as a vital tool in employee training. A recent survey by CARA, a US-based human performance consultancy firm, for example, found that 90% of respondents encourage or support it in some way. The same survey found that 81% of respondents feel that social media offers valuable learning opportunities for employees and 98% agree that social media is changing how employees learn and access information.
However, one potential downside is that the growth of technology-enabled informal learning comes with the potential for friction within an organisation and concern from managers.