by Marty Rosenheck

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The Milwaukee Learning Leaders has the honor of announcing the marriage of: Mr. Formal Learning to Ms. Informal Learning

With the variety of new social networking technologies, Informal Learning is the new darling of the training set. However, our old standby, Formal Learning, offers many benefits that cannot be found elsewhere.

Formal Learning, which includes classroom training, synchronous and asynchronous eLearning, and workbooks, has only been used in the workplace to any significant degree since WW2. Of course, Formal Learning can be efficient and suitable for getting new people up to speed. But it is relatively expensive to develop, quickly gets outdated, and is sometimes only marginally successful in translating to performance on the job.

Informal Learning has been around the workplace since there has been a workplace and includes all the ways that people have learned on the job, including trial and error, conversations, observation, asking questions, and apprenticeship. ASTD defines Informal Learning in the negative as “a learning activity that is not easily recognizable as formal training and performance support.” Generally speaking, it takes place without a conventional instructor and is employee controlled in terms of breadth, depth, and timing. It tends to be individualized, limited in scope, and utilized in small chunks. Informal Learning can be quite job-relevant and occurs as needed, but is often inefficient, haphazard, and slow.

By understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and differences, we can marry the two and take Learning, engagement, productivity, and innovation to unprecedented levels in our organizations.

Dr. Rosenheck discusses various methods of integrating the two approaches to achieve a happy and long-lasting marriage that breeds success for our organizations.

Marty Rosenheck
Marty Rosenheck
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