Informal learning

The next best thing to knowing something is knowing how to find out.
 
Life is about a constant learning journey and a large part of the learning that takes place in our workplace today is the informal learning – it is even the largest part of how employees learn new things today. Informal learning is about everything from knowledge and insights obtained through coaching and mentoring or when we observe how others do thing or when reading blogs, articles, nonfiction or looking at different video clips to us having talks and discussions with others.
 
A continuous learning is something that is more or less required to be successful in the workplace as well as in our private sphere. The knowledge and skills that we receive through informal learning are often invisible to our employers though, as there are no formal diplomas, degrees or certificates to show up. (The challenge of validating informal learning is even up for discussion within the EU, as it is an important part of all learning takes place today). So how can we make this more visible and even more useful in organizations? How can we find ways that allow, for instance colleagues to share their new skills and knowledge in a simple and smart way that will benefit more people?
 
Some things that employers could do are for instance to:

  • Actively encourage their employees to share their new skills/knowledge by creating and using internal wikis, message boards, social networks and blogs etc. where knowledge easily can be shared with others. In addition, this information can then be easily searchable by others within the company later on.
  • Have a formal or more informal way to share knowledge between colleagues through for instance different ways of mentoring.
  • Review what information and knowledge are being sought out among the company’s employees and thus obtaining a good foundation to develop and refine more adapted and blended training within organisations.

To learn new things is something we choose, whether it is through a formal training or through informal learning. To have a constant level of learning is a must for companies in order for them to continue to develop. We need to find ways to capture the amazing power and engagement that exist in all the learning taking place informally. An employer who can capture this will be in the forefront – both by being able to build on this knowledge and engagement but also by being perceived as an attractive and responsive employer.

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