Ignore informal learning at your company’s peril
Consider your company’s current approach to language learning: Are you expecting your formal learning program to cover all your workforce’s needs? If so, you’re ignoring a huge opportunity, writes Michelle Eggleston for TrainingIndustry.com. She shares a pretty powerful statistic: An estimated 60% to 80% of learning that occurs in organizations is informal, encompassing everything from peer-to-peer learning to group meetings: “Informal learning is leading the race,” she writes.
And Sean Stowers, Director of Learning Services at Pearson Learning Services, explains why: The social experience is an attractive one. “One thing that is really important in the informal learning environment is, even if it’s technology enabled, learners have to be able to interact,” he recommends. “They have to be able to write content, form communities and share their experiences.”
And we couldn’t agree more with the above statement. Last year, we launched GlobalEnglish Bloom™, an enterprise-collaboration platform geared toward helping non-native and native English speakers make the most of informal learning opportunities and collaborate better together.
GlobalEnglish Bloom can also help to mitigate the pitfalls identified in the article. If employees feel like they need to look beyond the company to external networks for this type of learning, explains Eggleston, “a lack of efficiency evolves when outside resources are utilized. The interaction is not captured and, consequently, the information cannot be ‘re-found.’ In turn, there is no way to ensure relevance or reliability of the information obtained.” That obviously raises a big question: How then do companies take charge of informal learning?
Eggleston zeros in on two components that are key to an informal learning strategy: One, employees need to be able to access the info they’re looking for at the very moment they need it; therefore, tools need to be available on demand. Second, employees need to be able to collaborate around that useful content, so tools need to have embedded opportunities for feedback and collaboration.
Stowers agrees. “As an organization, it is important that employees understand the value of sharing information. We really need to encourage business unit partners to see the sharing of content as a strategic imperative.”
And Eggleston believes that it’s a strategic imperative that will pay off: As employees learn together, a culture of innovation eventually emerges. “This opens the gateway to innovation and the possibilities are endless from there.”
Curious as to how to open your company’s gateway to innovation? Start here.