Informal Learning :: Ageless Learner

I discovered this excellent resource about Informal Learning today.  The author includes eLearning as a Formal Learning model along with classrooms and meetings.  This is a great discussion starter article.  I suggest all people interested in Educating / Training people to read this as a starting point.

If you can agree with the definitions of this article, then many Web 2.0 applications might qualify as formal, but unexpected learning.  I might argue that formal learning takes place in a controlled environment, where the Instructor has the control.  Informal learning then occurs outside the boundaries of that type of control.  Blogs, Wikis and Social Networks / Communities would be Informal Learning models in my definition since the instructor doesn't necessarily control those environments.

The instructor can, however, have significant influence in these informal learning models.  For example a mid-sized business can setup an intranet portal and Learning Management System with blogs and a wiki.  The classes offered on the LMS are formal training whether they take place online or in a classroom.  But the instructor can encourage students to use the blog to journal about their learning and then summarize their learning on the wiki, where all other students can edit the final wiki.  The instructor can also edit the wiki.  The learning community becomes important, if not foundational to the learning process, but it is in an informal manner.

I would include both these formal and informal learning methods in a global Knowledge Management plan for an organization.  If you've not thought about Organizational Knowledge Management, get this PDF or visit this site.  Learning Management is only a portion of the Knowledge Management plan, and both Informal and Formal learning must be a part of that plan, to the extent that the more an organization plans and implements informal learning, the better they can influence and control the informal learning methods.

Does anyone have other thoughts on this?

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