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Archive for April, 2011

Swiss e-Learning Conference 2011 (#SeLC11)

April 5th, 2011 Martin Raske 2 comments

Formal versus informal learning: A topic that was brought up again under the umbrella topic of "Workplace Learning" at the Swiss e-Learning Conference 2011 in Zurich.

April 5th

The discussion about formal and informal learning seems to motivate professionals so much that they do not consider themselves too good for loopy comments. Professor Dehnbostel, for example, said very excitedly: "If you cook a soup, you are practicing informal learning!" This actually means that every single thing we do - breathing, eating, walking, etc. - is in fact learning. In the final consequence this comes down to the equation life = learning = me, myself and I as training professionals are so incredibly smart and important.

The other quote comes from a tweet I saw about a presentation from Dr. M. Rohs. I hope the quote was not correct: "Informal learning needs a sheltered place." If that's true, then cooking a soup must only happen in sheltered workshops. And I always thought that in the contrary informal learning is informal, because it does happen in real life. Not sheltered. Exposed!

[It turns out that the tweet I was referring to was omitting the most important part of the statement (see comment from Dr. M. Rohs to this post) . Please read the very interesting article from Dr. M. Rohs as well.]

My position: Informal learning is probably happening a lot. And I am sure it plays an important part in our lives. As a training professional, however, I am not so much interested in trying to formalize informal learning but rather let it happen and - maybe - facilitate it, if possible. But I think that the big bonus of informal learning is that it is informal. As soon as training professionals start structuring it, it becomes formal - and less exciting and less effective.