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Informal Learning is impromptu/spontaneous learning or learning ‘on the fly.’ We offer several strategies and approaches to leverage Informal Learning for today’s remote workforce to drive creativity, innovation, and engagement.
There is a growing body of research providing insight into just how widespread and embedded that informal learning is in the lives of adult learners, with estimates of as high as 70-90% of lifelong learning activity (Merriam & Bierema)
When we are young, Informal Learning is the first way we learn. We continue to use it fairly regularly in the workplace too – a combination of reflection, practice, and learning-from-others, as the need arises.
According to the 70-20-10 model for Learning and Development, the bulk of our learning (70%) is Experiential Learning followed by Social Learning (20%) and only 10% of learning is through structured or Formal Learning. Investing in Informal Learning makes sense as it adds value in the first two ways we learn and can be used to support Formal Learning too.
Informal Learning happens at the learner’s pace and has a higher likelihood of timely completion as it is fueled by the learner’s interest and motivation. These experiences are more rewarding as they empower the learner to decide the learning journey. Without the pressure to deliver a structured training program, even peers and mentors find that impromptu sessions are easier to conduct.
Informal Learning drives collaboration – within the intersection of creativity and collaboration is where innovation occurs. Organizations with a strong culture of learning benefit from greater creativity. It is driven by the learners and is focused on exactly what they want, exactly when they need it. Adults find more fulfillment and intrinsic rewards through Informal Learning and it tends to stick better.
While it’s often overlooked by corporate training teams because it’s outside their control, Informal Learning doesn’t require formal L&D direction, design, or development. Having an environment that supports and encourages Informal Learning gives organizations two major benefits. It fosters a spirit of collaboration among employees where the focus is on continuous improvement, higher efficiency, and marked performance gain. And, it creates a Learning and Performance Ecosystem that promotes and nurtures different avenues to learn and grow.
We help our customers in fostering this approach by recommending several measures – including semi-structured forums for knowledge sharing, curated content, and flexibility for learners to share inputs.
We help in creating a culture of learning that’s built on the foundation of autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Employees who find these three things at work will proactively seek Informal Learning opportunities.
We help in creating a Digital Social Learning space where – employees ask questions, give feedback, and curate content and ideas. In this forum, leaders model constructive behavior and reward learners. It also includes schedule focused chat and idea exchanges.
We help create semi-structured forums where co-workers can virtually mingle with each other – remotely.
We create pre-course preparation materials like interactive PDFs that summarize the foundational information required for formal courses.
We leverage content delivered in bite-sized pieces in easy-to-use formats on the go – from home.
We identify digital learning solutions and facilitate access to tools, such as online learning libraries and industry journals.
We facilitate the creation of virtual book clubs. As Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
We recommend support of short-term coaching relationships for training participants and recognize high-potential employees and pair them with mentors to help prepare them for their future roles.
We help initiate small groups and one-on-one virtual interactions. Encourage employees to use live video calls.
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