June 17, 2004


form-inform-learn.gifOne often-quoted statistic by trainers and education professionals is that, while organizations invest most of their budgets in formal training - such as workshops and courses - 80% or more of critical job skill learning occurs on the job in informal, unstructured ways.

For any kind of formal teaching or training, the ultimate goal is achievement of specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and, finally, performance (whether it be performance on-the-job or performance in an academic sense) -- not achievement of a passing grade on a test.

But too often formal learning is taken out of the context of performance, and success in the classroom does not translate to successful application of learning.

informlearn.jpgInformal learning -- getting direction from a supervisor, asking a co-worker who sits next to you, talking to others at lunch or in the breakroom, looking something up on your own, observing what others do, calling the help desk, and, most of all, trial-and-error -- is effective because it's personal, timely and REAL. Application is immediate, and there's no question of the WIIFM ("what's in it for me?") factor

Informal learning is, ultimately, self-directed learning.

But most informal learning is unstructured, and organizations can't just assume that workers will be self-directed enough to "pick up" critical job skills. So how can teachers and trainers leverage technology to make their formal training efforts more effective?

Integration is the key.

Designing formal learning activities that make use of contextualized learning activities representing the complexity of the real world -- such as simulations and problem-based learning -- is an important part of this, but it's only one part.

When designing a training course, consider the other types of interventions that will support learning on the job, such as just-in-time training aids, help systems, job aids, communication and collaboration spaces, and other interventions that allow learners to learn what they need to when they need to.

Posted by jotz at June 17, 2004 09:43 PM