Helping Employees Memorialize Informal Learning
Learning is constant. Through formal or informal means, you are constantly acquiring information and putting it to work in your daily life. Formal learning is easy to identify – it takes shape as classroom exercises, webinars, or Web Based training modules. You know what you are learning because there are clear objectives and assessments for learning events.
Informal learning is more subtle. You watch a TED Talk on YouTube and you may learn a new way to complete a task, or you read an article in a magazine or blog that suggests a new way to manage a situation. You might also be watching a movie, and discover a different way to relate to someone that you never before considered.
No matter the method, you are always learning. You build your knowledge on the foundations of those who came before you. If this were not true, humans would still be perfecting fire. In all aspects of your life, you are learning. You set your own objectives, and seek information to meet them. At work and at home, you constantly repeat this process.
In a structured learning environment, goals and objectives are clear and provided for you. Consider your years in school: the teachers and administration provide you with specific goals and assess your learning with clear metrics. At work, managers do the same thing. Offices may use learning management systems to provide specific learning events with clear goals, established by experts. Much of the time, you know you learned something because you passed the quiz at the end.
Informal learning is harder to quantify. There is rarely a quiz at the end of an article. TED Talks end with no follow up discussion or debrief. The fleeting nature of informal learning events can also cause you to forget the lesson. It is estimated that 90 percent of what people learn in any format is lost in a very short time. In a classroom, the teacher may provide a take away item that will remind you what you learned. Managers can mitigate information loss by encouraging learners to practice new skills regularly. But what can managers do to solidify learning gained through informal learning events? And if you are looking for informal learning events, how do you find them?
One way is to memorialize this newly-acquired knowledge online. Young Government Leaders University (YGLU) has developed a platform to make gathering your knowledge base in one easily accessible, online location a reality. Drawing on lessons gleaned from social media platforms, YGLU has created a Crowd Sourced Learning Platform. With this platform your employees can answer the simple question, “What did you learn today?” and with that simple interface create a personal transcript of formal and informal learning events.
Employees can memorialize what was learned, how that knowledge can be used, and where to find the content again in the future. Users create a complete transcript of both formal and informal learning that is categorized by specific goals. Lifelong learners can also share their learning experiences so their transcripts become searchable databases for other learners looking for worthwhile content. Members can identify current and past goals and easily see the articles, books, and videos they saw as relevant. By helping your employees to memorialize their formal and informal learning in one convenient accessible location, they can instead focus on implementing the knowledge and techniques they have learned to more effectively perform at work. This new tool will be launched in the coming months through YGL’s website.
Written by Elizabeth Fischer Laurie, Chief of Staff for Young Government Leaders
To learn more about Young Government Leaders’ work to increase employees’ commitment to and passion for public service, and to join for free, visit www.younggov.org.
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