How did you learn the colloquialisms of the region in which you live? Did you take a structured, formal class, or did you learn the terms by hearing the language of others? 100 bucks says you learned to speak colloquially by hearing the speech of your family and friends and following suit. This method of learning is called informal learning. Sometimes it is referred to as social learning. A whopping 80 percent of learning happens informally, outside of a classroom. Most of the time, individuals are not even aware that they are learning when they obtain knowledge this way.
In corporate settings, social learning is as prevalent as it is outside the workplace. After all, people don’t stop learning informally when they step into an office. Most job skills and workplace etiquette is attained when employees observe the behaviors of their peers. Less than 20 percent of workplace-based learning happens in formal settings, such as training sessions and board meetings. Since this is the ruling statistic, why is it that company decision makers don’t spend more time implementing systems that facilitate informal learning? Too often, these leaders put a lot of effort into developing traditional training programs. This is fine – formal training should be a part of any employee-training program. However, when employers don’t encourage informal learning, companies suffer.
How an LMS Encourages Informal Learning
The most successful companies are those that implement systems that facilitate informal learning. One such system is an eLearning system, or a social learning management system (LMS). LMSs are ideal tools for powerfully promoting unstructured learning. An LMS feeds the human need for social learning by…
- Allowing for the use of social networks – In the past several years, social media networks have drastically increased informal learning in the workplace. Certain LMSs allow people to use social media for professional purposes. At the same time, eLearning platforms enable administrators to control how often employees use social networks.
- Enabling BYOD – BYOD, or “bring your own device,” is wildly popular in the workplace. The use of smartphones and tablets is at an all-time high, and will only continue to increase. People love their devices and want to bring them to work and interact with them in ways that promote knowledge transfer, organically. For example, Jay Cross wrote of an experience he had: “Increasingly vocal workers demanded the right to choose their own learning and bring their own devices to support it. Workers didn’t want courses; they just wanted to learn what it takes to do the job.” In other words, these workers wanted to partake of mobile/social learning. A cloud-based social learning management system enables BYOD by giving users constant access to information stored on the cloud.
- Creating opportunities for collaboration – Would you agree that collaboration is key for corporate growth? Sadly, many workplaces do not give their employees sufficient opportunities to connect in authentic ways. As a result, work relationships suffer, as do workforces. With an eLearning system, collaboration can become a regular part of an employee’s day. LMS features like video conferencing and realtime chat help employees communicate almost effortlessly. The article How Informal Learning is Transforming the Workplace says, “…the informal learning approaches that are most useful in the workplace are those that are social and interactive, such as ‘employee/team-initiated sharing sessions/collaboration’.” An LMS beautifully facilitates such informal learning approaches.
The 70:20:10 L and D Model for Developing a High-Performing Workforce says, “They (the most successful organizations) have realized that, with the traditional approach, it is impossible to achieve a high growth or efficiency because the way people learn has undergone a disruptive transformation…from formal ‘structured learning’ to informal ‘social learning’.” Is your organization as successful as you want it to be? If not, it may be time to encourage informal learning by implementing a cloud-based LMS.