informal learning

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Jay Cross states that workers can learn more in the coffee room than in the classroom. They discover their jobs through informal learning. A common assumption is that 80 percent of learning in organizations is informal. Strange enough 80 percent of organizations spending goes to formal learning if we look at the spending/outcomes paradox institutions.

The spending/outcomes paradox

The spending/outcomes paradox

In his book «Informal learning, rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance» Cross explores how informal learning benefits organizations. Before we explore this question in the scope of our own learning institution I let Jay Cross explain what he exactly means with informal learning:


It would be a useful exercise to assess what will work for our organization, considering how informal learning might supplement what we are doing already, rather than replacing it.

– instant messaging accelerates the information flow (cf. ILO adopted Skype)
– finding people faster can increase worker productivity 20 to 30 percent (cf. upcoming professional biographies on the website)
– improve workplace learning through coaching because there is not much time for courses, combining work and learning is the foundation of performance-centered design and workflow learning. (Cross, 2007)
– build shared places in order to work on prototype ideas
– embed the use of the staff development blog in all staff development activities
– … (your suggestions)

Additional input: Hands off: facilitating informal learning.

Teemu Areena (Finland) referred in a presentation to this as missing places of learning or third places of learning. You can watch this presentation below. Interesting is the concept of ‘Serendipity’ : «The art of making an unsought finding» (Serendip: old name of Sri Lanka).

[slideshare id=64240&doc=serendipity-20-missing-third-places-of-learning3647&w=425]

And finally to end this blogpost: the Jay Cross poster on informal learning.

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