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Informal Learning: Balancing the Risks and Rewards


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Training doesn't necessarily equate to learning. Often learning occurs through social, collaborative, and experiential activities that lead to greater levels of understanding. Employers that embrace the concept of informal learning have to balance some measure of risk in order to hit the payoff. More info:

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Informal Learning: Balancing the Risks and Rewards

  1. 1. Learning Anarchy Myths and Truths about Informal Learning
  2. 2. POLL Poll: what's your biggest concern with informal learning? • Losing control over the content our employees consume • Lack of measurement or tracking opportunities • Doesn't fit our workforce's learning/training preferences • It is too surface-level and doesn't drive long term development
  3. 3. Agenda • Myths and Truths about Informal Learning • Case Study Research: Barriers to Informal Learning Adoption • The Neuroscience of Informal Learning
  4. 4. Myths and Truths
  5. 5. Myth #1: Informal Learning Equates to Chaos • The Illusion of Control • Truth: informal learning is already happening, now we're just trying to capture, create, and measure these learning opportunities • Practical ideas to start: • Start small, measured steps (SMEs) • Allow consumption, oversee sharing • Practical vs conceptual
  6. 6. Myth #2: Informal Learning Can't be Measured • Informal doesn’t mean immeasurable • Truth: informal activities are still activities, and outcomes can be measured (skills acquisition, performance improvement, communication quantity/quality) • Kirkpatrick still works: knowledge transfer, satisfaction, behavioral change
  7. 7. Myth #3: Informal Doesn’t Fit all Learners • Informal is naturally the easiest way to learn. • Why do we think that courses or ILT are the only way to drive performance? • Truth: Your best performers may actually be demotivated by traditional training methods. • Neuroscience facts: moderate stress, active vs passive, volitional control
  8. 8. Myth #4: Informal Learning isn't Substantive • Informal learning is about connecting the dots. • Truth: Informal learning is a patchwork of learning experiences that create more long-term development, not less. Connecting the dots between disparate experiences. • Story: IBM just called remote workers back. Why risk the backlash? Because they think the social/collaborative aspect is worth it.
  9. 9. Research: Barriers to Informal Learning
  10. 10. Poll #2 Poll: What would you say are the biggest barriers to informal learning in your organization? • Our people don’t have time to pursue informal learning • Our people aren’t in close proximity to peers or resources • Our people don’t perceive any noticeable rewards for participating
  11. 11. Barrier #1: Lack of Resource Proximity • Learners say that a lack of accessible people and resources is a key barrier. • Actions: • Access to relevant people • Access to relevant experiences • Access to relevant content
  12. 12. Barrier #2: Lack of Time • Heavy workloads lead to less time invested in learning (both formal and informal) • 93% of workers say they are least productive at work (FlexJobs) • Actions: • Offer permission (white space) • Model behaviors (Ellinger)
  13. 13. Barrier #3: Lack of Rewards • There is little perceived incentive to invest time in learning. • Actions: • Communicate/reinforce benefits • Intrinsic (natural explorers, mastery) • Extrinsic (performance, rewards)
  14. 14. The Neuroscience of Informal Learning
  15. 15. #1: We are Self-Developing • We are natural explorers (self- developing) • Observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion (and repeat). • Baby vs adult brains • Provide white space for learning and people will develop themselves.
  16. 16. #2: We are Self-Directed • Everyone is wired differently (self- directed) • Brains develop at different paces in different people. • Brains do not store the same information in the same way. • One size-fits-all is not a fit. Embracing informal means opening up new possibilities.
  17. 17. #3: We are Self-Interested • We don't pay attention to boring things (self-interested) • How long did it take you to tie your shoes? • Our brain eliminates information and inputs that it deems irrelevant—is your learning meeting that threshold? • Relevancy is everything.
  18. 18. Thank You! Remember: • We are biologically wired for informal learning • It can be measured and managed • Remove the barriers to successful adoption Thank You! • Ben Eubanks • • @beneubanks