Supporting Informal Learning

“Informal learning is not better than formal training; there is just a whole lot more of it. It’s 95 percent of workplace learning.”

That’s what Harold Jarche contends in his popular learning blog (www.jarch.com).

“Formal training, usually in the guise of courses, is like a hammer that sees all problems as nails. Unfortunately, these nails only account for 5 percent of organizational learning.”

Gary Wise in his “Living in Learning” blog (http://gdogwise.wordpress.com) agrees: “This is extremely significant because our workers are confronted by moments of learning need more often in their work context than they are in the classroom or online. Work context is where informal learning opportunities surface as best of breed learning solutions. Informal solutions better serve individualized needs flavored by varying degrees of immediacy and business risk when flawless performance is required.”

Jarche says that the support of informal learning at work requires tools, processes and methodologies from a variety of disciplines. “Because the modern workplace is a complex adaptive system, there is no single approach that can be used all the time.”

He believes that learning professionals should not constrain their approach with a single methodological lens when looking at organizational performance. “While all models are flawed, some may be useful, and any analysis requires an understanding of the situational context and then the selection of the most useful models. Today, there is no agreed-upon informal learning design methodology. I doubt that a single one would be useful, anyway.

“To create real learning organizations, there is a choice. We can keep bolting on bits of informal learning to the formal training structure, or we can take a systemic approach and figure out how learning can be integrated into the workflow — 95 percent of the time.”

“Informal learning is not better than formal training; there is just a whole lot more of it. It’s 95 percent of workplace learning.”

That’s what Harold Jarche contends in his popular learning blog (www.jarch.com).

“Formal training, usually in the guise of courses, is like a hammer that sees all problems as nails. Unfortunately, these nails only account for 5 percent of organizational learning.”

Gary Wise in his “Living in Learning” blog (http://gdogwise.wordpress.com) agrees: “This is extremely significant because our workers are confronted by moments of learning need more often in their work context than they are in the classroom or online. Work context is where informal learning opportunities surface as best of breed learning solutions. Informal solutions better serve individualized needs flavored by varying degrees of immediacy and business risk when flawless performance is required.”

Jarche says that the support of informal learning at work requires tools, processes and methodologies from a variety of disciplines. “Because the modern workplace is a complex adaptive system, there is no single approach that can be used all the time.”

He believes that learning professionals should not constrain their approach with a single methodological lens when looking at organizational performance. “While all models are flawed, some may be useful, and any analysis requires an understanding of the situational context and then the selection of the most useful models. Today, there is no agreed-upon informal learning design methodology. I doubt that a single one would be useful, anyway.

“To create real learning organizations, there is a choice. We can keep bolting on bits of informal learning to the formal training structure, or we can take a systemic approach and figure out how learning can be integrated into the workflow — 95 percent of the time.”

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