Informal Learning — Research-Based Answers to How it Works and How to Best Support It

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Online Forums 2011 - October 7, 2011
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Victoria J. Marsick, Ph.D.

Professor of Adult Learning & Leadership
Columbia University, Teachers College

Given the networked, decentralized nature of work, organizations are seeking to help employees learn continuously in ways that often happen organically and informally as people tackle common challenges at work. Training and education are still valuable when developing known expertise and skill, but when facing new challenges, employees need to think on their feet, using judgment and accumulated expertise both to learn and improve how they do their work. How is this kind of learning understood, encouraged, and best supported? Informal learning has grown in importance in today’s organizations, yet questions arise as to what it looks like, how it can be “formalized” and supported, and whether and how it works.

Participants in this session will learn about research and practices in the literature to: help define informal learning; identify drivers that influence informal learning’s design and value; show what is important in the implementation of informal-learning initiatives; and understand the critical personal characteristics, job design, and organizational factors that support effective informal learning.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How informal learning differs from formal learning
  • What organizations value and do about informal learning
  • What research says about how organizations can best support and leverage informal learning

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