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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