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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Action on Informal Learning - Leads to Great Questions

Great post by Ray Sims - What To Do On Behalf of Informal Learning? He provides a list of things he can do to help informal learning in his organization. A few that jump out at me:
  • Help employees discover and refine their own personal learning environment
  • Improve content findability. Obsessive attention to enterprise federated search, cross-linking, social tagging, content reuse strategies, etc.
  • Improve people findability. Both expertise location applications and other means.
  • Make outside connections easy. Funding for information and research services, conference attendance, guest speakers at company events, etc. A liberal blog policy and encouragement to blog
  • For every new piece of formal learning, explore complementary informal learning opportunities — explicitly driving this exploration through process
  • Culturally institutionalize After Action Reviews
  • Require personal learning plans
  • Encourage and support coaching. Considering what a “learning coach” might look like.
  • Market and advocate on behalf of informal learning opportunities
  • Make it easy to share and recommend sources (including via tag clouds, subscription lists, etc.)

Fantastic stuff! And at the level that helps us apply it. I would also suggest that each of these items suggest possible great questions for this month's Big Question - What Questions Should We be Asking? Just add "How can I/we ..." in front, so for example:

  • How can I help employees discover and refine their own personal learning environment?

We further could generate fantastic questions by looking at particular common audience segments, e.g., new managers, distribute sales force, so:

  • How can I help new managers discover and refine their own personal learning environment?


Ray Sims said...

Thanks Tony,

You just made my week as a blogging newbie. Thanks for the fuel for me to keep at it.

I'm happy that you saw some value.


Downes said...

> Require personal learning plans

If you require personal learning plans, it becomes formalized.

A huge difference between formal and informal learning is the locus of control. If you take control from the learner, it is no longer informal learning.

The role of management with respont to informal learning should be support and provision of resources, rather than direction and requirements.

Tony Karrer said...

Stephen - I understand your sentiment, but this goes back to our whole discussion of the slipperiness of supporting informal learning. It's like Artificial Intelliegence. Once you teach a machine how to do it, it's no longer intelligent. So, once you figure out a good system for informal learning and provide support for that system, you are making it less informal.

See our prior discussion:
The Real Challenge Around Informal Learning

Mr. Philip L. Thomas said...

I actually find this to be a good post because these tips for informal learning help the Instructional Designer a lot during the needs analysis phase. When the learners understand exactly what they do in a way that they can simply explain it to others, it makes asking questions about the learner and their environment extremely easy! Thanks for the post.