Formal versus informal learning, part 2 of 2


The term “informal learning” suggests a number of key characteristics, such as:

  • Un structured or semi structured
  • It is often centered around the practical, problem solving or situational need of the learner
  • It can happen anywhere, at home or work, through the learner’s daily interactions and relationships. It can happen in anyway, through books, support materials, communities of learning, coaching, centres of excellence or self study programs

Although informal learning is growing in stature, society does not generally hold it in as high regard as formal learning. Somehow learning discovered by oneself is seen as less valuable. Perhaps this is because it has not been tested to a particular standard, such as more formal learning leading to a qualification generally are.

However, is this true? Informal learning is often more practically relevant to the learner, applied and tested in real world situations, than formal academic learning is.

In today’s business world what is useful is not so much what you know, as the ability to find it out, in a timely manner, problem solve the solution and adapt what you have found and apply the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to your particular situation correctly.

So the core skill becomes learning to learn rather than anything else.

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