Informal Learning

I watched some videos by Jay Cross and Peter Casebow recently on the value and extent of informal learning. “What is informal learning?” I hear some of you ask. The opposite of formal learning – surely?

Informal learning is not a stand and deliver type of transfer of knowledge. There has been much more informal learning taking place with the rapid uptake of social learning tools on the internet. (You know, the types of sites the school authorities want to ban you from using in school – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a myriad of others).

Jay made the point that “conversation is incredibly powerful to transfer learning” and I guess, by way of deduction, it can be the place where reflection “in action” can take place. Why wait until the end of the day when we are too busy to reflect on the experience?

Education can’t be linear anymore. We have information coming at us from all directions, so we need to navigate it carefully while we are amongst it. A great idea for your computer labs in schools must be to get rid of the individual computers and chairs and put 2-3 seater benches at the computers so you automatically have groups of students interacting and discussing what they are learning.

They concluded by saying “Social networks are vital for informal learning” and conversation is the most powerful network to bring people together. However, keeping in mind the Pareto Principle, we are funding 80% towards formal learning, but in fact, 80% of our learning takes place informally.

Have fun talking … and learning.

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About Debbie Smith

New Zealand Educator interested in online education, giftedness, and other special needs in education.
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