Informal Learning: Just as Important as Formal Learning
Instructional designers are often faced with the challenge of understanding what informal learning is and how to incorporate it into the design of formalized training courses. Informal learning includes the unscheduled and unofficial ways that individuals learn how to do their jobs. This part of learning is just as important as more formal learning, yet receives significantly less emphasis.
Informal learning happens frequently with no effort on the part of an instructional designer or training administrator. It's the process by which employees pick up various aspects of their job. It can happen by watching another employee or when discussing a policy or procedure with someone. Many times, it's simply the result of a meaningful opportunity.
Since informal learning can take place so readily, it's natural to want to do anything you can to ensure that it occurs more frequently. You can do this by creating those learning opportunities. This can be done by using the training environment to model appropriate employee behavior, dress code, and customer interaction just to name a few. Showing employees the behavior and actions you want them to replicate on the job is just one example of using informal learning to the best of your ability.
Informal Learning and eLearning
The eLearning environment naturally lends itself to promoting informal learning opportunities. The unofficial and unscheduled process of allowing employees to complete training courses at their convenience when they need them helps ensure that their learning needs are being met. A comprehensive blended learning approach to your eLearning course design can produce benefits that far outweigh the initial time and investment of setting up your eLearning program.
One of the first things you'll need to do when building your eLearning program is invest in a learning management system (LMS). This powerful software gives you a place to store all of your eLearning training course content so that the opportunity for informal learning is readily available to anyone who might need it.
Choosing Your LMS
Narrowing down your LMS selection is going to take some time and research. There are plentiful options out there and not all of them are as user friendly as they should be. Litmos has a popular LMS that is used by over a million people. You can sign up to try the software for free. Give it a try and see if this software will help you promote effective informal learning opportunities for your company.