When I read the description of Pirolli’s Information Foraging book, I immediately sent the description to Jay Cross, guru of informal learning, because the principles of information foraging are key descriptors of informal learning on the web. Then I went and googled the concept.
You see, when you take the broader picture of elearning (see Tony Karrer’s current discussion), beyond courses to populating the ‘learnscape’ or performance ecosystem with eCommunity and portals as well, you want to make sure that your learners can get to the information they need. This means good information architecture as well as powerful search.
I was thrilled to see Jakob Nielsen’s information foraging page, where he covers simply not only the theory, but the implications for site design. It’s information we should use in designing our portals and resources for our learners. Will they quickly be able to find what they need because we’ve designed the clues to lead them to it? Or will they find incomprehensible barriers?
I’m biased, as by circumstance my background has been steeped in information architecture and interface design, but it’s a component we need to be aware of to truly support performance in our organizations. It’s needed in the systems so we’re not training around bad interface design, but also to meet needs whether it’s customers, our own employees, or our students. Check it out!