Donald Clark raises an issue on his blog about confounding informal with Web 2.0, and the point I found interesting is his query about the 80/20 in/formal learning metrics. He queries the statistics, and the issue of supporting informal. I took it (and no blame to him if I misconstrue) to be an issue of should we match our budgets to that ration. I commented:
Interesting point, and right in many respects. The point of the 80/20 (or 75/25) is to help people realize that they’re not supporting the 80, rather than to totally match the investment. The formal learning probably takes more resources, over time, as there’s more development required. However, how much have we invested in the informal? Typically, bugger all. My take, at least, is that there needs to be some up-front investment in the informal, but then it (should) become self-perpetuating (with the usual maintenance/upgrade/review costs).
The way I see it, as you broaden your responsibility from just training to support performance, eCommunity, mobile, etc (eCommunity being the social component of web 2.0, and a major component of informal), you need to systematically support informal. Most of the time, it’s providing resources and an infrastructure for informal learning to flourish (the culture is the hardest part). It’s not as resource-intensive as the process of getting learners from novice to practitioner (except the initial investment in infrastructure and boot-stratpping).
So, to me, it’s about considering informal, making a systematic plan for supporting, it, and launching it, while continuing to develop the necessary formal support for learning. The latter will change as we develop capable learners (assuming you’re putting meta-learning in, and you should be), but there will be a role for each, but that doesn’t mean that the support requirements are a one-to-one match. At least, that’s how I see it. What say you?