The day before yesterday I listened to Jay Cross give his spiel on informal learning. I’m already a fan, but apparently some people were having trouble mapping it into concrete action plans the last time he gave it, and I suspect he wasn’t putting enough initial framing around it. It got me to thinking…
Jay was using O’Driscoll’s model on the relative role of formal versus informal learning, and it occurred to me that one of the ways to think about the role of informal learning is filling in the middle. For the novice, you need courses to get the learner up over some initial knowledge/skill hurdles. At the top end, you need to provide a way for experts to converse and negotiate understanding. But what are you doing for the middle?
What do I mean? Jay got Cisco to talk about how they were making videos of presentations available. I’ve heard of a case where engineers asked a firm to record the white papers as podcasts for listening to in the car. And all that rapid elearning (read: narrated powerpoints and captured webinars) similarly qualifies.
The point being that informal learning is about putting resources out there for the folks who are beyond courses, but are not yet ready to be creating their own resources. Making these resources and making them available, and allowing ways for these learners to tap into the expert conversations (and the experts) as well as begin communicating with peers, is what you need to do.
So, are you neglecting the middle majority, or not?