I haven’t received Jay’s Informal Learning book yet (he’s promised it’s coming) but I’ve been thinking about informal learning a lot lately, not least because it’s emerged as an issue in some recent elearning strategy engagements.
One of the issues is the transition from novice to expert. I think Tony O’Driscoll’s model captures it elegantly, how the role of formal drops off and informal comes to play a bigger role as you transition from novice to expert. At the expert level, collaboration that is the knowledge negotiation process can be handled by email, blogs, and wiki. The problem is having the learner becoming part of the community from the beginning. I’d like to insist that it be baked into the LMS infrastructure, but I think instead that our elearning needs to be designed with communication and knowledge representation into it even for the most formal courses.
Which, of course, is hard to think of when you’re taking the typical siloed view of content and designing independent asynchronous courses. Which is why I’m arguing for a performance focus for organizations.
For example, the learning follow-on systems touted by Will Thalheimer, the example Jay Cross posted about where a new app emailed him several times over several days with further tips, and my own ‘layered learning’ model for slow learning.
Along the same lines, in a couple of recent engagements I’ve been suggesting that customer help needs to have a single entry point, with self-help resources and then an obvious and steady progression forward through getting assistance if the answer doesn’t already exist (ala my Learning At Large paper, PDF).
The points being that we need a broader focus, and our instructional design has to be augmented with information design and information architecture. It’s about supporting performance, not just about courses.