People acquire the skills they use at work informally — talking, observing others, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal training and workshops account for only 5% to 20% of what people learn from experience and interactions.
What is Informal Learning? Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs. Informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider.
Most corporations over-invest in formal training while leaving the more natural, simple ways we learn to chance. This is foolish, for there are many ways to encourage informal learning and they boost the bottom line.
Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance
Read a free chapter
Chapter 7: Learners.
Articles and Commentary
70:20:10 Learning Approaches, Charles Jennings
Introducing Informal Learning, Marcia Conner
Eight Reasons Why You Should Focus on Social and Informal Learning, Charles Jennings
Not Without Purpose, Jay Cross
Focusing on Strategy & Governance, Charles Jennings
Towards a definition of Informal Learning, Jane Hart
Guide to Social Learning, ibid
Informal Learning Works for New Hires, Harold Jarche
PKM & Informal Learning, ibid
Driving formal & informal from the same place, Clark Quinn
Seed, Feed & Weed, ibid
aprendizagem informal – os outros 80%”, Jay Cross and Luiz Algarra
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An informal way to get a better term paper is to use 123researchpapers.com – a legitimate custom writing company.
I started this blog when Informal Learning was released, November 10, 2006.
The informal learning meme has gone mainstream. I am gratified. That crusade is behind me.
Informal learning is more important than ever. It’s part of life. It no longer needs an in-your-face site to promote it.
These days I focus my energies on helping organizations work smarter. Informal learning is part of the mix, but so are social business, brain science, systems thinking, and a bunch of other things.
Need help with term paper? Mypaperwriter.com – paper writing service.
An informal way to get a better term paper is to use 123researchpapers.com – a legitimate custom writing company.
Join me at JayCross.com.
You want Jay, that’s where I’ll be. Even I was getting confused about which blog to post in.
The archives will live on. The Internet Time Search box will continue to cover both blogs.
Subscribe to Internet Time blog here (Feedburner RSS).
A New Culture of Learning by John Seely Brown and Doug Thomas
This short book (136 pages) is inspiring. I just read it a second time, something I very rarely do. These paragraphs lept out and grabbed me:
In the new culture of learning, people learn through their interaction and participation with one another in fluid relationships that are the result of shared interests and opportunity. In this environment, the participants all stand on equal ground—no one is assigned to the traditional role of teacher or student. Instead, anyone who has particular knowledge of, or experience with, a given subject may take on the role of mentor at any time. Mentors provide a sense of structure to guide learning, which they may do by listening empathically and by reinforcing intrinsic motivation to help the student discover a voice, a calling, or a passion. Once a particular passion or interest is unleashed, constant interaction among group members, with their varying skills and talents, functions as a kind of peer amplifier, providing numerous outlets, resources, and aids to further an individual’s learning.
Learning from others is neither new nor revolutionary; it has just been ignored by most of our educational institutions. The college experience is a perfect example. When students set foot on campus in their freshman year, they begin a learning experience that is governed only in part by their classroom interactions. Assuming they live on campus, sleep eight hours a night, and attend classes three hours a day, students are immersed in a learning environment for an additional thirteen hours a day. Simply by being among the people around them—in study groups, for instance—students are learning from their environment, participating in an experience rich in resources of deep encounters.
The Emergence of the Collective
Our ability to produce, consume, and distribute knowledge in an unlimited, unfiltered, and immediate way is the primary reason for the changes we see today. One no longer needs to own a television station, a printing press, or a broadcast transmitter to disseminate information, for example. With just a computer and access to the internet, one can view or consume an almost unimaginably diverse array of information and points of view.
But equally important is the ability to add one’s own knowledge to the general mix. That contribution may be large, such as a new website, or it may be a series of smaller offerings, such as comments on a blog or a forum post. It may even be something as trivial as simply visiting a website. But in each case, the participation has an effect, both in terms of what the individual is able to draw from it and how it shapes and augments the stream of information.
This core aspect of education in the new culture of learning presents a model for understanding learning in the face of rapid change. Teachers no longer need to scramble to provide the latest up-to-date information to students because the students themselves are taking an active role in helping to create and mold it, particularly in areas of social information.
We call this environment a collective. As the name implies, it is a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts.10 For our purposes, collectives are not solely defined by shared intention, action, or purpose (though those elements may exist and often do). Rather, they are defined by an active engagement with the process of learning.
Here’s an important aspect of that I call a workscape:
Students learn best when they are able to follow their passion and operate within the constraints of a bounded environment. Both of those elements matter. Without the boundary set by the assignment of playing the prelude, there would be no medium for growth. But without the passion, there would be nothing to grow in the medium. Yet the process of discovering one’s passion can be complicated.
Training Smarter, Working Smarter
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 11 AM PST/ 2 PM EST
Considering the fast pace and super-connectedness of today’s business environment, is the old static classroom really the best place for achieving modern training objectives?
Hear Jay Cross, a leading expert on informal learning, for a far-ranging conversation about how organizations are working – and training – smarter in the network era.
Find out how smart businesses today are reaping the benefits of continuous, peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.
I prefer conversations to presentations. Bring your questions. After the introduction, I’ll be happy to let you hi-jack the session to talk about what’s on your mind.
Attend this webinar to learn how:
- Work and learning are converging.
- Informal learning often costs less and delivers more than formal class time.
- An elevator pitch will help you overcome management objections.
- Social learning can help you reach training goals faster.
Three people will win copies of the new Working Smarter Fieldbook.
Mixing case studies, stories, and actionable recommendations together with humor and easy-to-understand language, Jay Cross provides much more than buzzwords and back-patting, or so says his bio. He also has some very strong opinions on the future of workplace learning. A Harvard MBA and Princeton undergrad, he has been improving business processes since developing the first business curriculum for the University of Phoenix three decades ago. Jay covers topics from 50,000 feet to ground level, depending on audience and need. He has spoken with executives, marketers, entrepreneurs, chief learning officers, sales staff, instructional designers, HR directors, bankers, and academics. He has keynoted conferences in the United States, Canada, Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, Portugal, Monaco, and Abu Dhabi. He travels the world, but increasingly delivers presentations and events in real time over the web. He took a few moments to answer some of our questions.
Learning Executives Briefing: Performance is a wonderful yardstick, and the world is still somewhat governed by accountants. As the economic environment improves, will the fear factor fade a bit and send organizations back to their old ways of relying mostly on numbers?
Jay Cross: Those who follow the old ways will die. This isn’t just a bend in the road or some sort of bounce in a cyclical trend. This is a total phase change. (Author and co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge) John Seely Brown would call this “the Big Switch.” We are going from throwing off the yoke of the industrial age, when you had one class of people telling another class of people what to do, into a network age, where if you don’t empower the people of your organization, the people are going to leave. That is the defining characteristic of this new way of looking at the world. No more efficiency models, and no more Six Sigma. Forget that. We aren’t in a stable environment and won’t be in a stable environment. We have to have our people go out and experiment, innovate, and invent. Job descriptions, competency management systems, and all that legacy stuff are needless baggage.
LXB: In The Working Smarter Fieldbook, you and your co-authors suggest that invisible assets, such as relationships and know-how, count for more market value than visible assets such as plants and equipment. How does that manifest itself in the new world?
Cross: If I am a financial analyst looking at a public corporation, I can figure out what the valuation stands for—the fixed assets, money in the bank, and all of that. We used to call it net worth. Then I look at the value over and above net worth. I look at Google and see that they have $8 billion in fancy kitchen equipment and server farms, and the stock market values the company at $157 billion—so where is that other $150 billion? It is in know-how, intellectual property, and the relationships. It’s all of this stuff that is in the mind of the investor. They think these guys have the secret sauce and they are going to keep churning out future earnings, so I am going to keep investing in them. That’s the proof. And maybe that is something that people in training don’t often get—the value of a company is more than what the accounts add up [to be] on the balance sheet. LXB: How does that differentiate a new-era organization such as Google from a company such as Buggy Whips International? Cross: Even Buggy Whips International these days has more value in its intangible assets— its knowledge and relationships—than it does in plant and equipment.
LXB: Do you still believe, as you have said many times before, that learning is too important to be left to the training department?
Cross: Training departments should just be blown up. They perpetuate old thinking instead of looking at new ways. They are afraid to give power to people to do their own thing. That is a lot different from companies that have drunk the Web 2.0 Kool-Aid and say we’ll take ideas from wherever they come. Everyone is involved, including the customers. We are transparent. If I compare that to companies that play it too close to the vest and are afraid to even give their employees Internet access, it seems silly. If you have high expectations of your people, they will live up to them. If you have low expectations of your people, they will live down to them.
LXB: Why hasn’t it happened in a big way yet? Or has it happened, and the training department has just been given different tasks?
Cross: It’s spotty. We are in a time of transition. People of our generation are holding things back. But that is always the case. People get a little power, and they try to hold on to it. There are some companies that haven’t changed their core philosophies and management practices in 100 years and they never will. There are others that are hiring new kinds of leaders, and they are changing in a big way. There is going to be a bloodbath with the companies that dig in their heels and say we are going to do things the way we have always done them before. Well, “before” is over. We are in a rapidly changing, mind-blowing overly complex world out there today. It is a different world, and the old ways of prospering are a formula for disaster.
LXB: Again, you and your co-authors write: “Management itself, the art of planning, organizing, deciding, and controlling, will fall by the wayside.” If so, what replaces it?
Cross: I am not giving up on managing, organizing, and controlling. But it is going to be more of a shared responsibility. And it is going to be shared with workers and this group of people we don’t have a name for—the people who used to be on the payroll: outsourced, or consultants, or some other thing. And customers are going to be involved. A company that doesn’t involve its customers in its product planning is missing the boat. Procter & Gamble is a good example. They are the West Point of brand management. They now crowdsource 50 percent of their innovation. Talk about opening the door. I thought it was more than a little striking that P&G traded workers with Google. Google wanted to understand how old-style companies (worked) and P&G wanted to know how new-style companies could turn on a dime.
LXB: If training becomes obsolete because, as you note, “it deals with a past that won’t be repeated,” doesn’t some baseline learning still need to exist?
Cross: I don’t spend a lot of time talking about it, but if you have an employee who is entering a new area, such as being posed to China or being involved in programming, whatever it is, if it is new to them and they have no framework, then formal learning is the way to get them up to speed—to learn the lay of the land, the technique, and the structure. But as soon as you form a complete tableau in your mind of that domain, then you are empowered to go out and fill in the pieces. It has context. As it starts out, it needs to be very formal. Formal and informal never exist in isolation.
LXB: You have mentioned Daniel Pink in some of your writing and his notion that we are in a new conceptual age. Do you think the rewiring of our brain is still going on?
Cross: Yes, I do. When I talk to people today in a lot of different contexts, it is only a matter of time before they say the word design. They never used to say design, but now it pops up all the time. For me, that is code for getting the right side of the brain working. This country has missed one of the best opportunities for employee development and worker fulfillment by not asking the employee her life aspirations. Once you identify that and let the people you work with know that, you plan together to make it happen. If the employer has a spot for someone with your particular interests, then they have created an employee for life, and one who will work his butt off for you to make things happen. People talk about work-life balance, and I think that era is over—it is going to be just life. Period.
LXB: Come next year, what trend or advice should the CLO ignore at his peril?
Cross: The biggest thing for the CLO to do is to stop focusing on programs. Don’t kid yourself that your learning needs are just going to take care of themselves. You need to get in there and make things work better. Unless you establish an environment for learning—where you can focus specifically on your learning ecology and what will make it healthy and grow—it won’t ever get better. It involves making it easy to access expertise. Who knows what around here, and do we have a culture for sharing? This involves making mentoring and coaching de rigueur. If you have a manager who isn’t willing to participate in making people better, then throw him out the door. Focus on the platform. The program stuff will get what they need if they have the right platform and things are hooked up. I call it the workscape.
In some ways I am talking about expanding the training department to locate it with everything the business does.
Read excerpts from The Working Smarter Fieldbook by Jay Cross, Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, and Clark Quinn. Join the discussion on Facebook.
Jay Cross was interviewed by Learning Executives Briefing editor Rex Davenport.
Fifteen years ago, “the OECD education ministers agreed to develop strategies for ‘lifelong learning for all’.” They still don’t have it right.
Who are these guys? OECD? According to Wikipedia,
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, in French: Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques, OCDE) is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identifying good practices, and co-ordinating domestic and international policies of its members.
The OECD originated in 1948 as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), led by Robert Marjolin of France, to help administer the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Later, its membership was extended to non-European states. In 1961, it was reformed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Most OECD members are high-income economies with a high Human Development Index (HDI) and are regarded as developed countries (Chile being the only OECD member which is also a member in the organisation of developing countries, the Group of 77).
The OECD’s headquarters are at the Château de la Muette in Paris, France.
The latest report says:
- Formal learning is always organised and structured, and has learning objectives. From the learner’s standpoint, it is always intentional: i.e. the learner’s explicit objective is to gain knowledge, skills and/or competences.
Informal learning is never organised, has no set objective in terms of learning outcomes and is never intentional from the learner’s standpoint. Often it is referred to as learning by experience or just as experience.
Mid-way between the first two, non-formal learning is the concept on which there is the least consensus, which is not to say that there is consensus on the other two, simply that the wide variety of approaches in this case makes consensus even more difficult. Nevertheless, for the majority of authors, it seems clear that non-formal learning is rather organised and can have learning objectives.
[Emphasis is mine.]
This talk of absolute like always and never is bi-polar thinking at work. Either/or thinking obscures the nuances. Most learning is not “mid-way between” formal and informal. Rather, it’s a little of this and a lot of that along many dimensions.
- Because non-formal and informal learning is happening everywhere all the time, this OECD activity could not address all the issues related to non-formal and informal learning in general. In consultation with the participating countries, it was agreed to focus solely on the processes that make visible this learning that has not been formal.
Because learning is ubiquitous, OECD decided to overlook how to make informal learning better in favor of surveying what yardsticks are available to measure it. The “relevant documents” are an effective sedative. They get no further than “who gives credit for what” in various countries.
- The Role of National Qualifications Systems in Promoting Lifelong Learning
- Adult learning policies and practices
- The role of national qualifications systems in promoting lifelong learning
- Qualifications and Lifelong Learning, OECD Policy Brief, April 2007
I’m glad these aren’t my tax dollars at work, but I hate to see opportunities to make progress squandered, and that’s my reading of the OECD’s work on “non-formal learning.”
Denis Dutton, a philosophy who founded the pioneering website Arts & Letters Daily, has died in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the age of 66.
Arts & Letters Daily broke new ground went it came online in 1998. The site’s archive shows what grabbed people’s interest back then. Here are entries from the first edition:
Television is indifferent to approval or love. It pursues its only goal with unblinking zeal: to be watched … [more]
Even if the people who made cigarettes or cheap handguns were moral monsters, Wendy Kaminer argues, that wouldn’t mean they were criminals … [more]
Chance and necessity don’t account for everything. Without discarded teleologies, entelechies, and vitalisms, we can still opt for intelligent design, argues William Dembski … [more]
Computer-based learning is a high-priced sham, bound to stunt the emotional and intellectual growth of our children, argues William Rukeyser … [more]
Playing fast and loose with Thomas Jefferson: a Library of Congress exhibit falsifies Jefferson’s view of Christian theology and clergy … [more]
Academic freedom has been twisted into a narrow, self-serving claim to privilege, power, and easy access to the public treasury, argues Thomas Sowell … [more]
Everyday justice: a junior barrister of the Greenwich Magistrates Court helps his client apply for bail … [more]
Riley Weston is 19 years old, though, here as elsewhere, it depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. Mark Steyn reports … [more]
Media and public have fallen in love with the hucksters of acupuncture, homeopathy, chelation therapy, herbal concoctions, magnetic placebos … [more]
Filling in the black holes of a college education means forgetting the postmodern ironists and returning to the library, says Camille Paglia … [more]
Nude photos of Dr. Laura mark the fall of a grasping Tartuffe. Never mind: this yenta’s credibility was built on shrewish hectoring, not morality … [more]
Escape from Pleasantville! Sven Birkerts wonders if we can ever get back to reality … [more]
Planning that Dream Wedding? If you think the ultimate joy is a day spent being the center of a big party, you’re too young to get married … [more]
Do electronic books spell the end of paper as the preferred book medium? Any optimism on behalf of trees is premature, says the Economist … [more]
History belongs to everyone and to no one: hence its universal authority. This claim will be contested. But without it, we are in trouble … [more]
Isaiah Berlin was a fox who’d rather have been a hedgehog. The themes of freedom and its betrayal were the obsessions of his life … [more]
Corporate nomads: are the virtues of public and private life being corroded by the demands of a more ruthless economy? … [more]
Richard Dawkins might have been a superb drill instructor, perhaps like the vicious Marine sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, murdered by a conscript he drove insane … [more]
In their own eyes, the Stuarts were quite as modern as the Spice Girls. So what exactly is modernism? … [more]
The notion of an aggregator with intelligent selections was a breakthrough. I corresponded with Dutton, thanking him for making and maintaining such a great resource. This was pre-Google. RSS didn’t get real until 2000. Arts & Letters Daily’s teasers and links gave access to smart stuff on the web.
Until I read Dutton’s obit in the Times this morning, I hadn’t realized that ALD was still around. I may well become a dedicated reader again although I note it’s now a service of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
In the five years since the publication of Informal Learning, I’ve become the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. I didn’t invent the concept. Informal learning is older than civilization. My contribution has been pointing out that overemphasis on formal learning in organizations is dysfunctional, uneconomic, bad business, and not a whole lot of fun.
Formal learning is characterized by a curriculum, i.e., content chosen by someone other than the learner. Delivered in courses or workshops or semesters or degree programs, episodes of formal learning always come to an end, although learning never does. Completion of a formal learning experience is generally celebrated by awarding a grade, certificate, degree, checkmark in an LMS or other symbol.
Often, formal learning is delivered to many people at once. It’s like riding a bus. The bus follows the same route to the same destination, regardless of the needs or desires of the passengers. It’s efficient. By contrast, informal learning is like riding a bicycle. The rider chooses his or her destination and changes the route at will. People who set their own direction are more likely to get where they want to go and enjoy the journey.
The analogy breaks down because you can ride a bus or a bike, but not both at once. Learning, however, is not either-or. It is always part formal — common language, shared context, fundamentals — and informal — social, learning outside the classroom. The learner accepts or rejects what’s presented formally.
Learning is a continuum of degrees of formality. The challenge is choosing among shades of gray. People who tell me informal or formal learning is bad oversimplify reality; I call their thinking bipolar.
Permit me to answer the critics of informal learning, usually people who confuse learning and schooling.
Question: How do we know that informal learning works?
Answer: How did you learn to walk, to talk, to kiss a sweetheart or to be productive in society?
Question: Isn’t informal learning an erosion of discipline and control?
Answer: Informal means unbounded, not haphazard. It’s a better way to work. If you have high expectations of people, they live up to them. Management control is largely fiction anyway.
Question: What’s the ROI? We’re not going to do this without proof.
Answer: Hold on. Informal learning is already the primary way your people learn their jobs. By paying attention, you make what’s already going on more productive.
Question: Where is the evidence that 80 percent of job learning is informal?
Answer: Multiple reputable studies have come up with the 80 percent figure. Of course, this varies by job. More importantly, the studies predate the Web. In our world of social networks and collaboration software, I’m confident the number for informal has risen much higher than 80 percent.
Formal learning is ideal for novices. People without a framework and vocabulary for dealing with an area that is foreign to them can learn a lot from formal courses and workshops. Imagine trying to master mathematics or chemistry by hanging out around the water cooler. Better to dip into the wisdom of the ages.
Formal learning doesn’t work so well for accomplished practitioners. Once people have a mental tapestry for how things work, they are looking to fill in holes in their knowledge. They want to learn what they need to know to get something done. ‘laking a course to learn one small item is a waste of lime and an insult to a practitioner’s prior learning.
By the way, this is what’s behind the “informal learning paradox,” the fact that corporations invest most heavily in formal learning while workers learn mostly through informal means. Corporate training focuses on novices. It’s school. Schools neglect alumni, and training departments neglect the experienced people, those who generate the profits.
Once upon a time, people were paid to follow instructions. We thought we could train them to do their jobs. Now, work is more like improv theater. Workers have to solve problems on the fly. They confront situations no one has encountered before. They must perform on the spot. And the only way they can keep up is by learning for themselves. Learning has become the work.
Instructional designers used to design programs. Today they need to invest in building learning environments that enable workers to take learning into their own hands.
This instance is part of the latest upgrade to Firefox. The push button takes you to their Tweetstream.
An artifact from Learning Day at the European Commission. My keynote was titled “The Impact and Inevitability of Informal Learning.”
Human Capital Institute is hosting a webinar by Dave Wilkins and Jay Cross entitled The Learners Are Taking Over the Asylum.
Organizations that focus on the supply side of the training they provide are looking at the wrong side of the equation. By focusing on the demand side (what learners need) they can facilitate the biggest part of the learning experience-informal learning. While informal learning is spontaneous it is not as informal as it may initially appear. It means orchestrating informal tools to be available in the context of work as it needs to get done. Think of trainer turned into stage manager… their facilitation is more about making tools available than writing content; leaving the learners in charge to create and apply content. This webcast addresses the paradigm shift learning professionals must make to tap the enormous power of informal learning by the organization’s knowledge assets- their people. You’ll discover the advantages of learners taking over without going crazy!
Easter egg: Note the original title in the event URL.
I’m reading Diane Ravitch’s The Life and Death of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Ravitch is America’s foremost education historian. She has been a champion of testing, choice, charter schools, and letting the market forces of the Invisible Hand direct educational policy.
Seeing the lack of results of No Child Left Behind, Ravitch summoned the courage to admit that she was wrong. Big foundations, accountable to no one, have pushed one failure after another. An opinion piece by the New York Sun’s Andrew Wolf writes:
It is not only the foundations that Ms. Ravitch blames for the current crisis: government has also failed in the attempt to reform the schools from above, lacking a clear perspective of how schools work on a day-to-day basis. Thus, the major federal initiative, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), well intentioned as it may have been, ended up damaging the quality of education, not improving it….
Ravitch writes that “Accountability, as written into federal law, was not raising standards but dumbing down the schools. The effort to upend American public education and replace it with something that was market-based began to feel too radical for me.”
“Nations like Finland and Japan seek out the best college graduates for teaching positions, prepare them well, pay them well and treat them with respect,” she said. “They make sure that all their students study the arts, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages, the sciences and other subjects. They do this because this is the way to ensure good education. We’re on the wrong track.”
America’s corporations are suffering because many high-school graduates are uneducated. Cramming for standardized tests in math and writing have crowded out subjects like history and art. Business needs well-rounded generalists, not people who only study to ace the test.
Here’s a weekend diversion: this site analyzes your Tweets to come up with a profile of how interesting you are.
I thought I was nerdier but I guess I bring it up much in my Tweets. Thanks to Louis Gray for the pointer. He rated a 1 nerd score, too, so I don’t feel so bad. Louis is on top of things.
This afternoon, I keynoted the 3rd Global Learning Summit in Singapore. From my studio in Berkeley.
I’m doing more remote presentations these days. It reduces my carbon footprint. It saves time and money. It’s a win-win. I’m frugal.
We used Skype. Free. My face and/or my presentation filled the big screen in the ballroom. I could speak back and forth with participants and other presenters. I’ve delivered presentations like this in Europe as well. Skype’s sound quality is very, very good.
Cost is no longer an excuse for not getting on board with collaboration.
The slides for my presentation, Working Smarter with Collaborative Intelligence, are here.
Best of Informal Learning Flow
February 1, 2010 to February 27, 2010
The following are the top items from featured sources based on social signals.
- Rethinking Open Data- OReilly Radar, February 1, 2010
- 10 Ways to Build Social Media Expertise Using Personal Web Projects- HarvardBusiness.org, February 2, 2010
- “The Class” – parody of The Office- Digital Ethnography, February 7, 2010
- Secure Websites in Plain English- Common Craft – Explanations In Plain English -, February 9, 2010
- The Future of Web Content – HTML5, Flash & Mobile Apps- TechCrunch, February 5, 2010
- Google Buzz re-invents Gmail- OReilly Radar, February 9, 2010
- The Great to Good Manifesto- HarvardBusiness.org, February 3, 2010
- The Man Who Looked Into Facebook’s Soul- ReadWriteWeb, February 8, 2010
- Shifting Identities – From Consumer to Networked Creator- Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, February 12, 2010
- If Google Wave Is The Future, Google Buzz Is The Present- TechCrunch, February 9, 2010
- International Amateur Scanning League- OReilly Radar, February 10, 2010
- Wikimedia Strategy: Ideas for Strengthening Online Communities- HarvardBusiness.org, February 9, 2010
- Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login- ReadWriteWeb, February 10, 2010
- Brain surgery boosts spirituality- Scientific American, February 10, 2010
- How To Make Money In Online Video- TechCrunch, February 7, 2010
- Data not drugs- OReilly Radar, February 11, 2010
- Intel’s Social Media Training- HarvardBusiness.org, February 3, 2010
- Blog – Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy- Technology Review Feed – Tech Review Top Stories, February 2, 2010
- Kevin Rose’s 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs- ReadWriteWeb, February 19, 2010
- How To Make Money In Online Video- TechCrunch, February 7, 2010
- Four Steps to Gov 2.0: A Guide for Agencies- OReilly Radar, February 8, 2010
- In Asia, Marketing 101 Doesn’t Work- HarvardBusiness.org, February 5, 2010
- Exploring Why Social Business Will Drive 21st Century Enterprises- Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 Blog, February 1, 2010
- Meet The First Miners of the New Social Graph - ReadWriteWeb, February 10, 2010
- Facebook’s Project Titan: A Full Featured Webmail Product- TechCrunch, February 5, 2010
- Cyber warfare: don’t inflate it, don’t underestimate it- OReilly Radar, February 11, 2010
- Sometimes, It’s Better to Brainstorm Alone- HarvardBusiness.org, February 4, 2010
- The internet, depression and drinking a glass of water- Mind Hacks, February 3, 2010
- 5 Simple Twitter Listening Tips Every Marketer Should Know- ReadWriteWeb, February 2, 2010
- Israel’s Time To Know Aims To Revolutionize The Classroom- TechCrunch, February 2, 2010
- Extreme Scale Computing- Irving Wladawsky-Berger, February 11, 2010
- 30 seconds to creativity- Adaptive Path, February 2, 2010
- Become a Gmail Master Redux [Hack Attack]- Lifehacker, February 4, 2010
- Work Smart: Mastering Your Social Media Life- Fast Company, February 8, 2010
- The evolution of Cynefin over a decade- Cognitive Edge, February 7, 2010
- Pranksters Attach GPS Device To Google Street View Car- Forbes.com: News , February 7, 2010
- Informal learning from the horse’s mouth- Informal Learning, February 3, 2010
- Excellent Technical Resource for Mobile Learning- Workplace Learning Today, February 9, 2010
- SharePoint Social Learning Experience- eLearning Technology, February 1, 2010
- EdTechTalk Episode #5: Promoting Learning Through Asynch Discussions- Learning Visions, February 5, 2010
- [2b2] Long-form, wide-form- Joho the Blog, February 3, 2010
- Rhizomatic Translations 1 – Buying tech for learning- Dave’s Educational Blog, February 2, 2010
- Pew Report Interview- Half an Hour, February 20, 2010
- CopyTrans 4- Lockergnome Blog Network, February 19, 2010
- A modest revenue proposal to the BBC- Doc Searls Weblog, February 19, 2010
- Formalizing informal learning?- Learnlets, February 16, 2010
- Vegetable sheep- Purse Lip Square Jaw, February 10, 2010
- The Future of Higher Education: Beyond the Campus – a joint JISC, SURF, EDUCAUSE, and CAUDIT report - Fortnightly Mailing, February 7, 2010
- Get More Done with Less Effort: A Systems Story- You Learn Something New Every Day, February 6, 2010
- iPAD: a baby boomer, narrative device- Donald Clark Plan B, February 4, 2010
- Rosetta and Long Now on Life After People- The Long Now Blog, February 4, 2010
- The pad will blow away the clamshell- Skys Blog @ The Dalai Lama Foundation, February 4, 2010
- Spotify for Desert Island Discs- edublogs, February 2, 2010
- Does Apple Think Multitasking Is A Bug Not A Feature? And Other Questions….- stevenberlinjohnson.com, February 2, 2010
- Reading Joyce’s Dubliners With Imaginary Friends- Full Circle, January 31, 2010
- Jay’s latest book focuses on social & informal learning in the cloud- Internet Time, January 31, 2010
“As soon as the software vendors and marketers get hold of a good idea, they pretty well destroy it,” writes my colleague Harold Jarche in his post on Social Snake Oil. (That’s his graphic above.) Jane Hart chimed in, reinforcing Harold’s point that “social learning is being picked up by software vendors and marketers as the next solution-in-a-box, when it’s more of an approach and a cultural mind-set”.
I watched vendors hi-jack the term eLearning, and I don’t want to see it happen to social or informal learning. At the 1999 Online Learning conference in Los Angeles, CBT Systems announced it was “Smartforce, the eLearning Company.” This was ground zero. No one else on the exhibit floor even mentioned eLearning. Yet at the ASTD Conference six months later, dozens of vendors claimed to have eLearning. Most of them had changed nothing but their brochures and their signs. The “e”? Perhaps you could ask for help via email.
This old story is playing out again. In additional to social learning, vendors are claiming to provide informal learning. Instead of email, you get blogs and wikis tacked on. This is akin to saying that word processors write novels: it’s hardly the whole story.
Informal Learning in a Nutshell gives my definition of informal learning.
WORKERS LEARN MORE in the coffee room than in the classroom. They discover how to do their jobs through informal learning: talking, observing others, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal learning—classes and workshops—is the source of only 10 to 20 percent of what people learn at work. Corporations overinvest in formal training programs while neglecting natural, simpler informal processes.
LEARNING is that which enables you to participate successfully in life, at work, and in the groups that matter to you. Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn on the job. Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. Informal learning is like riding a bike: the rider chooses the destination, the speed, and the route. The rider can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or go to the bathroom. Most of the time, novices ride the bus; seasoned performers ride their bikes. Taking advantage of the double meaning of the word network, to learn is to optimize the quality of one’s networks.
When you see “informal learning” on an LMS vendor’s brochure, you might inquire if they’re using Jay’s definition. And how they do that.
In the last ten days, I’ve been invited to attend three different webinars on formalizing informal learning. The topic arises from faulty semantics, a word trick.
None of the speakers really call for formalizing informal learning; that would kill it. What they mean to say is that informal learning is too important to leave to chance. The formalizing means giving an official blessing to building an environment that encourages informal learning. Thus, it’s generally a good practice to provide comfy nooks that foster conversations; it’s malpractice to tell people what they should talk about in those nooks.
The Informal Learning Page
Social Snake Oil (Harold)
The State of Social Learning Today (Jane)
Maybe it’s just me, but everywhere I turn, people are looking at things from a higher level of abstraction. They’re seeing a bigger picture by rising above the immediate situation. (I dubbed this the Helicopter pattern recently.)
For example, executives look beyond mere execution to their readiness to change strategies. Managers who used to deal with training are focusing on whatever it takes to get the job done. Organizations are going around yesterday’s confining corporate boundaries to form closer ties with customers and collaborators. It reminds me of the famous movie by Charles and Rae Eames, Powers of Ten. The higher you go, the greater your perspective.
Kevin Wheeler, founder of the Future of Talent Institute, and I talked about this trend toward taking a loftier view over lunch in Fremont yesterday. I asked Kevin about the transition from competencies to roles, from specialists to generalists, and from job descriptions to enlightened action.
Are you seeing the same phenomenon?
Getting good at social interactions is vital for social learning.
We live in a social world. Every action taken that involves more than one person arises from conversation that generates, coordinates, and reflects those actions. At best, those group actions serve the well-being of the whole: not just the whole of a particular organization, but the whole of life. However, as we well know, many group actions are not life-serving. They are disconnected, existing in a fantasy in which, by analogy, it’s as if they imagine it is possible for the cells in one’s stomach to work against the interest of the cells in one’s heart, without thereby acting against their own interest as well.
Because these group actions, destructive and constructive both, arise from group conversations, those conversations become a potential leverage point for anyone looking to shift the system. People who convene formal group conversations—facilitators, meeting planners, et al.—are particularly well placed to make a difference, and thus we carry an ethical responsibility. We can support processes that empower people, or processes that prevent them from taking charge of their own lives. We can plan meetings that are genuinely open as to outcome, or let ourselves be co-opted by the powers that be as tools of manipulation. We can spread skills for solid group process as deeply and broadly as possible, or we can horde knowledge. Basically, group conversations have power—and the people involved with this project believe that power should be shared . . . and that sharing power in this way serves life.
led facilitated by Tree Bressen is working to develop a pattern language for group process.
A Pattern Language is an attempt to express the deeper wisdom of what brings aliveness within a particular field of human endeavor, through a set of interconnected expressions arising from that wisdom. Aliveness is one placeholder term for “the quality that has no name”: a sense of wholeness, spirit, or grace, that while of varying form, is precise and empirically verifiable.
The term was originally coined by architect Christopher Alexander, who, together with five colleagues, published A Pattern Language for building in 1977. Others have since applied the term to economics, software design, liberatory communication, and more.
The group’s goals are:
You can see the work in progress and sign on to contribute at the group’s website.
I spent part of yesterday and today writing patterns. I’ll show you what I came up with (in league with Kaliya Hamlin and a few other volunteers).
Our pattern is called Helicopter. It had been named “Go Meta,” but we decided that was not easily understood.
Most topics of group discussion can be visualized as a series of layers. The helicopter goes up a layer or two to get the “big picture” or a wider vision. Looking at the forest reveals viewpoints of a higher order than looking at just the trees. From the vantage point of the helicopter, you only see the forest.
The Helicopter view is also known as going meta. Meta-learning is learning about learning. Meta-cognition is thinking about thinking.
“Context” is the Helicopter view from a higher altitude.
INSTRUCTIONS & VARIATIONS
The facilitator may direct the conversation to the helicopter level by asking for similarities between objects. Things that are characteristic of an entire group of topics are generally meta.
Alternatively, the facilitator could use graphics to explain the higher-order process. A process map or social network diagram gives the Helicopter view.
Map the situation to show the connections. The network of nodes and connectors is at the meta level.
In some cases, the facilitator may be able to get the group to the meta level by simply asking about the structure of the ecosystem surrounding the topic in question.
- Finding a bottle neck in a system
- Understanding the patterns of communication in a network
- Investigating processes instead of isolated events
Douglas Hofstadter uses meta as a stand-alone word, both as an adjective and as a directional preposition (“going meta”, a term he coins for the old rhetorical trick of taking a debate or analysis to another level of abstraction, as in “This debate isn’t going anywhere.”). This book is also probably responsible for the direct association of “meta” with self-reference, as opposed to just abstraction. The sentence “This sentence contains thirty-six letters,” and the sentence it is embedded in, are examples of sentences that reference themselves in this way. See Wikipedia article on meta
Letter from Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke in 1676: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Patterns are meta.
If you cannot discern a pattern, perhaps you’re dealing with a chaotic system. (Chaos has no meta.)
“One person’s variable is another person’s constant.” Jay Cross