Formal learning learning as defined by a Dept. of Labor study, is planned in advance and has a structured format and defined curriculum. Informal learning is unstructured, unplanned and easily adapted to situations and individuals, or alternately, “any learning in which the learning process isn’t determined or designed by the organization.”
How do you suppose business partners first meet? Company founders come across the idea for their companies? Products are invented? A song is written? Friends are made? Soul mates come together? Maybe some by formal structure, but mainly informally. It also makes for a better story.
There’s no shortage of evidence as it applies to the workplace – studies consistently point to 70% as the amount that we learn about our job informally. The Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics stated this in 1996. The Education Development Center completed a $1.8M study that reiterates this. It’s nicely illustrated here with links to multiple other sources here.
One of the resources for such studies stated the relevancy best, “Harnessing it could save billions of dollars for government and industry.”
Next blog: How CoolTowns foster informal learning.