Why We Need To Take The "Formal" Out Of Corporate Learning

Why Informal Learning Is A Must In eLearning
Summary: Learning has always been a formal concept. However, there have been a number of studies in recent years that have revealed that we actually learn best informally as we go through our everyday lives. This article discusses why informal learning is a must in corporate learning.

Why Informal Learning Is A Must In eLearning

Learning has always been a formal concept for as long as we have known. It took place in formal settings, like classrooms or seminar halls, even after the arrival of eLearning to the employee learning and development scene. However, there have been a number of studies in recent years that have revealed that we actually learn best informally as we go through our everyday lives. We learn from every experience in our lives, whether it be walking on the road, sitting in a classroom, watching a video, engaging with our community or spending time with our family. We also learn by reflecting on our experiences. This learning wasn’t valued as its importance was not understood, because it was not structured like formal learning. Until now.

eLearning has brought a new revolution to the field of corporate learning because it is slowly and steadily recognizing the importance of informal learning experiences, and using these experiences to help learners absorb and retain knowledge better. However, not all eLearning professionals have understood why informal learning should be included heavily in eLearning courses and this article sheds light on the reasons why we need to take the formal out of corporate learning. Let’s have a look.

1. Learners Need To Be Aware Of The Value Of Informal Learning

Most learners only have had formal learning right from the start in the form of academic learning in the classroom. It is thus natural if they don’t recognize how much they learn outside of a formal learning environment. Thus, it is up to eLearning professionals to educate them on what informal learning can accomplish and help them understand which method of learning works best for them. Give learners control by giving them the choice of how they want to learn, and you’ll see that they’ll become more self-directed in their efforts to learn. Corporate organizations must first educate their employees about the various ways eLearning can be used for their benefit, so that they can assess different kinds of eLearning, recognize what suits them and share their eLearning experiences with their colleagues.

2. eLearning Professionals Need To Make Efforts To Push Informal Learning

Before you can make learners understand the importance of informal learning and make them self-aware of different types of eLearning, eLearning professionals themselves must acknowledge that there are many ways to learn and therefore many ways to teach. It is only then that we can supply varied opportunities for the learners to learn. Share meaningful and relevant resources including websites, blogs, videos with your learners/employees. Corporate organizations must also segregate the advanced learners, those who are serious about learning by building communities or programs where such employees can learn and share.

3. Informal Learning Is Relaxing And Motivating

Informal learning offers learners the freedom to learn whenever they want, wherever they want, and without any constraints. This means that it is much more relaxing and less threatening to learners. As it doesn’t affect their limited schedules, they can commit to learning new skills, qualities as well as concepts readily. Informal learning also doesn’t have any quizzes, tests or summative assessments, which further removes any inhibitions learners may have against learning.

4. Knowledge Sharing Is Easier Through Informal Learning

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and other experts find it easier to have informal discussions about the subject at hand with learners and are relatively more willing to share knowledge than in formal environments. This knowledge sharing can also happen in online communities without experts having to travel down to an organization or a seminar hall to deliver a lecture or speech.

Informal learning is not only a great strategy to help employees learn better, but it is also natural and scientifically proven to provide more knowledge retention to learners. Because it yields greater pleasure to learners, it also leads to greater creativity and innovation, these are highly-productive and desirable values to have in an employee. Formal learning has been an important part of the global learning journey and there are instances where informal learning cannot replace formal learning. However, it has had its time and it should be used minimally, wherever needed on a complementary basis with informal learning.

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Originally published at cblpro.com.