April 26, 2021
Informal learning is learning out of the curriculum and has no set structure. It gives control and flexibility to learners as information is consumed at their own pace and can happen anytime.
In the workplace, informal learning supports and reinforces the formal learning activities received by employees. While businesses spend a lot in conducting training sessions, the 70-20-10 model in learning and development suggests that individuals get 70% of their knowledge from work experiences, 20% from peer interactions, and only 10% from formal learning.
Let’s look into the different examples of informal learning and how they can provide more holistic learning experiences.
Informal learning or informal training is a form of asynchronous learning that doesn’t follow a structured method. By the informal learning definition, it is a spontaneous learning style that is driven by the learner’s curiosity, motivation, objectives, and passion.
It gives the learner control over the content they want to learn and the choice of resources for their learning. It’s a self-paced learning approach that allows learners to gain knowledge and develop new skills when they’re most susceptible to learning.
In the workplace, this can happen anytime and anywhere, even from interactions with colleagues that provide opportunities for sharing knowledge.
To boost your team’s informal learning skills, check out EdApp’s Learn and Apply and Stepping Into Team Leadership courses! These courses go beyond the theoretical and recommend practical applications for learning.
Quizzes are a quick and easy way to check if learning is retained and understood which is usually done after formal training. By sending out weekly trivia quizzes to your teams, it helps gauge understanding, reinforces key concepts, and makes sure that learning outside the four walls of a classroom is a continuous process. EdApp’s quiz maker Rapid Refresh is perfect for creating quizzes which you can automatically roll out to your teams. All that’s needed is to set a schedule and enter your questions and answers on an easy-to-complete spreadsheet. To make it engaging, it includes gamification elements and even has a leaderboard to push employees to do well and can also be used for incentivizing learning and problem-solving.
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Mentoring is a common informal learning example that encourages growth to both mentor and mentee through shared knowledge and experiences. This usually happens between a more experienced employee and a newer coworker. With this exchange, a meaningful relationship is formed wherein the mentor passes on their knowledge and experiences to the mentee to set them up for success, supplementing the formal training that they’ve received. On the other hand, this is also a learning experience for mentors as it puts their knowledge to the test and refines their skills. They’ll also gain new perspectives and insights from their mentees which could prove valuable and contribute to improving their job performance.
Nowadays, watching videos on online video platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo, are gaining traction when it comes to learning aside from their entertainment value. With the wealth of educational videos available, from documentaries to instructional videos, learning new information or skill is as easy as searching for the topic of your choice and finding the content that’s most suitable for your needs and goals. Video learning is easily a great way to boost learner engagement, especially when entertaining elements are incorporated to it. It takes out the mundane task of having to sit in a classroom and listen to lectures for hours by helping visualize and placing context to the information you’re absorbing.
Self-study, from the name itself, is an informal learning example that involves studying at your own time and pace without any guidance or supervision. When looking at formal training vs informal training, you'll find that informal training complements formal training as information can be reviewed and revisited as needed. Learners can also take their time and go back as often as they want to focus on topics they may find more challenging. Aside from being an example for hands-on learning, it’s a skill in itself as it takes a great amount of self-discipline and good time management due to our varying attention span and the many distractions that can hinder us from being focused while learning. Microlearning courses are the best way to make sure that you’re getting the most of your reflective learning even in a short period of time. Information is delivered in bite-sized chunks in short bursts to ensure easy understanding and retention. EdApp offers a plethora of microlearning courses and is a great starting point for your self-study journey.
They say that learning is more fun when you’re learning with others. Having team building activities is an informal learning example that brings people together, with the purpose of teamwork and collaboration towards achieving a single goal. When done successfully, it can help break communication barriers, enhance teaching strategies, and encourage each individual to bring something to the table which enables a culture of experiential-learning from one another. The combined experiences, ideas, and information shared within the team opens new perspectives and insights that can in turn produce better job performance and learning outcomes. Team building activities oftentimes result in a close-knit team which is also beneficial since employees will be more encouraged to share their knowledge with each other, making organic learning possible. If you're wondering on the definition of organic learning, it's where you pick up skills and knowledge naturally, without a strict structure or curriculum guiding you along the way.
Another informal learning example is through the use of educational games and simulations. Thanks to the advancements in technology, knowledge and concepts can be incorporated into games to create immersive experiences. Through the use of engaging virtual environments, a learning-through-gaming model creates a dynamic that sustains learner interest. Additionally, deploying microlearning courses to your teams with gamification elements also produces a captivating learning space since it makes long lines of text interactive and easy to digest. EdApp’s rapid authoring tool includes a selection of ready-made game templates which works right out of the box wherein all you need to do is enter your content and populate it. It includes a jeopardy game, similar to the popular game show of the same name, Memory Game, and Letter Jumble, which makes answering courses a fun learning experience rather than an actual work task.
This type of learning is the polar opposite of the formal learning definition. Listening to podcasts is a highly effective informal learning example for auditory learners. In recent years, it’s become a popular, alternative way of learning. Just like videos, podcasts started out as a platform for entertainment, where creators voice out their thoughts and opinions on a certain topic. It has since evolved to be used for educational purposes. Podcasts are a great way to learn due to its ease of accessibility and round-the-clock availability. One can simply listen to a podcast through their favorite platform on their smartphone while doing tasks that aren’t mentally demanding, such as during a daily commute to work or while on a lunch break to maximize the use of their time. Popular podcast formats include language-learning, solo commentaries, panel discussions and many more.
Job rotation is another informal learning example, where employees are moved around different roles within the workplace to acquire and develop different skills and knowledge. On the job training has been one of the most popularly used methods since learning by experience has proven to be effective when an employee takes the time to do the actual work after seeing it performed. Through job rotation, an employee acquires knowledge about the various lines of business which can also help them improve in their current role. For example, employees who work in production can be moved to a client-facing role so that they can gain customer empathy and learn firsthand what they can do to make the product better.
Many learners are now turning to social media sites to increase their knowledge and understanding. With popular platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, where almost everyone has an account, learning mainly happens through social interaction with peers. Sharing tips, techniques, life hacks, and other nuggets of wisdom can be as valuable as what is taught in a traditional classroom setting. This can be done through the platform’s features such as direct messaging, groups, and post commenting. One thing to take note of is to make sure that you’re interacting with the right people with the proper expertise to make sure that the information you get is of value.
Sending employees to a conference or seminar is an informal learning example giving them a change of pace and environment. By attending workshops or seminars, they’ll be able to directly hear from the best, which are usually renowned leaders and think tanks in their field of expertise, who can provide a spark of motivation while expanding their knowledge. Conferences and seminars also usually include discussions which can foster a healthy exchange of ideas and perspectives from like-minded individuals. This can also serve as a learning experience to improve communication skills which is an added bonus.
A lunch and learn is an informal learning example where a quick training session happens while everyone is eating lunch. This can be done either in person or electronically depending on your current work setup. A lunch and learn program brings team members from all departments together in a relaxed setting to network and learn. These kinds of informal learning activities are perfect for training new employees because, in addition to learning, they’ll get to know their coworkers, have the chance to build relationships, and fit in well with your business.
Informal learning fosters a sense of community and support in a relaxed setting while advancing individuals’ knowledge and expertise in online social communities. Informal learning within social media communities is often unplanned, unstructured, and motivated by the learner. Taking a break from social media can also be beneficial for individuals, allowing them to recharge and focus on other aspects of their lives without the constant digital stimulation. Through these platforms, it enables people to participate in online communities for sharing ideas and co-production of knowledge. Social media also bridges formal and informal learning through active online communities where both experts and individuals can exchange in the same space.
EdApp is the best LMS platform to make sure that your employees are getting the most out of informal learning. It has a vast library of free, fully customizable courses and lessons on a wide variety of topics (like conflict resolutions, compliance, risk assessment, and communication skills courses) perfect for gaining more knowledge and skills or deploying to your teams. It's also a great way for you to weigh which type of learning best suits your team's needs: formal vs informal learning.
It’s also packed to the brim with features to keep learners engaged through interactive quizzes, gamification elements, and leaderboards to promote healthy competition and drive motivation.
EdApp aims to provide an intuitive platform based on the concept of informal learning in order to continuously improve the overall learning experience for professionals and casual learners alike.
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Gabrielle is an eLearning content writer for EdApp, a microlearning solution designed for today's digital habits. She creates content about cutting-edge learning technologies and resources to help companies deliver great training experiences. When not absorbed in writing, she spends her time playing video games and reading books.