Posts Categorized: Informal Learning

Informal Networked Learning

We’re currently in our second Informl Learning Unworkshop, using various web tools that didn’t exist several years ago, with participants around the globe. My initial experiences in the learning field were from the point of view of methods of instruction (how to get subject matter across to captive students) and later, the systems approach to… Read more »

Adobe Informl Learning eSeminar Today

Yesterday, we had our third session of the Informl Learning Unworkshop, with about 10 participants online and the rest watching the recording later. Many are blogging for the first time, and there are some natural storytellers and artists. This is our second unworkshop series and it’s beginning to hit a natural learning rhythm – many… Read more »

Next Informl Learning Unworkshop Starts Soon

Jay Cross has just announced the next Informl Learning Unworkshop, set to start on June 8th. If you’re uncertain whether this is right for you, follow the links to the FAQ, or Jay’s online audio/slide presentation, or the excellent informal learning synthesis that Jay recently posted. We look forward to another interesting group learning experience… Read more »

Elgg update

I’m a great fan of the Elgg learning landscape and feel that this blogging, eportfolio, social networking platform is an excellent vehicle for informal learning and filling in the cracks created by those pesky LMS/LCMS that academic institutions insist on using. This past year David Tosh and the Elgg community have been busy with several… Read more »

A Learning + Web Unworkshop

Interested in how to use blogs, wikis and other web tools for specific learning applications? Then join Jay Cross, Judy Brown and me for an informl learning unworkshop. The format of the unworkshop is different from a typical online course or webinar and is focused on the working professional. First of all, it’s based on… Read more »

Quotable Comments on Learning

Here is a random selection of some quotes that I’ve been collecting. This collection is one example of why I focus my efforts on informal learning rather than more formalised education. “… curriculum is a solution to a problem we created.” —Brian Alger “No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the… Read more »

Jay Cross on Informal Learning

Jay Cross has posted a Breeze presentation that you can watch and listen to online. It’s a review of his research over the past year that informed his in-press book on informal learning.
There’s a lot here and worth the time (35 minutes) to sit back and learn. Jay and I share perspectives on many things, including the importance of performance & the power of networks. In this presentation Jay gives a lot of food for thought on the important role of informal learning.
His statement that only 0.4% of behaviour change is attributable to formal learning should make training organisations and educational institutions shake in their boots, but of course it won’t (until it’s too late).

Connecting formal & informal learning

Dave Tosh, co-creator of Elgg, has a model in progress of "how to facilitate the social interaction of learners and resources within the current architecture most institutions employ." His two-layer model is similar to what Mancomm has developed for a healthcare institutional setting:

 Layer 2  Personal Learning Landscape
e.g. Elgg
Learner defined
 Layer 1 Course Management System
e.g. Moodle
Institution defined
Task based

By using Elgg linked to a more formal system like Moodle you can provide traditional training & education, focused on specific tasks while encouraging emergent and informal learning in the less structured elgg learning landscape.
In a later post, Dave links to a concept map being developed by Andrew Chambers. This map shows the wide variety of tools currently available for informal learning, in order to organise, connect, create and share. These really are "small pieces loosely joined" for informal learning.
The trick will be in linking informal & formal systems so that the learner can easily move from one environment to another. This is probably the biggest challenge for institutions and their IT departments. If they aren’t linked, then learners may find less use for them. That’s why I continue to recommend the Elgg and Moodle communities because they are actively working on integrating these two layers.

Informal Learning for a Flat World

A flattened world is one where skilled workers compete with each other, no matter where they live. With the opening of China, India and Russia to the world economy, the world is becoming flatter. Thomas Friedman, in The World is Flat says that there are four categories of workers who will prosper in a flattened global economy – special workers, specialized workers, anchored workers and really adaptable workers. Learning how to learn will be the critical skill for this last group; who in my opinion will be the largest. In 1998 I noted in my thesis that learning how to learn would be the crtitical job skill for the future. It’s now becoming reality.
Given the huge diversity of learning needs for these adaptable workers, we need to move away from a one size fits all educational approach. One of the answers is informal learning (see Jay Cross), which can be likened to mass customisation. It allows the learner to co-design the learning process. 
This means that informal learning environments have to be loose structures that can accomodate as many different learning needs as possible. Instructional systems design (ISD) was developed to train soldiers for war so that everyone would have the same skills. In a global, networked world the last thing you want are the same skills as everyone else, as you will then be an interchangeable commodity.
Therefore in an economy that needs adaptable learners, the type of learning environment that they will demand will be an adaptable one as well. A single course, with established learning objectives that all students must achieve, just won’t cut it.

Learning Landscape

Jay Cross uses a landscape analogy to describe informal learning:

Courses end; learnscapes persist. Organizations and their members are living things, and the landscape/learnscape analogy invites us to consider nature, symbiosis, interconnections, genetic make-up, adaptation, the change of seasons, and life cycles. People are not plants, so the analogy doesn’t stretch into self-expression, thinking, identity, personality, and collaboration.

This got me thinking about how useful I’m finding ELGG, the learner-centric environment, which has the tagline "learning landscape".

Elgg lets you set up a personal presence online and then use it to interact with others!
Create your own weblog, journal, store of files like photos and Word documents, communities, social networks.
Use Elgg to enhance reflective thought, your development, your resource base.
Share them with your friends, teachers, instructors and other Elgg users. YOU decide who can see what!

Unfortunately, since no one can pronounce or understand the name ELGG (I’m told it’s a Swiss deer), I suggest a petition to change the name to "learning landscape" or something like that. It looks like ELGG is making very exciting progress and it will be a heck of a lot easier for me to convince my clients to use it if they can pronounce it 😉