From the stories we tell each other at lunch to the e-mail we send to help our colleague about the system we use, informal learning has become an important part of every aspect of our lives. However, methods that support informal learning are changing. Informal learning can be realized more effectively as we have increased access to new technologies and adaptability. In the light of new technologies, many organizations are striving to find new and more advanced ways to improve the performance of individual employees and therefore the performance of the organization.
Informal learning is a collection of learning that occurs naturally in an individual's life and is the result of his / her experiences. These experiences cannot always be realized in the classroom; it is also a museum, zoo, botanic garden, aqua park, playgrounds, non-governmental organizations, youth clubs, media (radio, film, video, books, magazines, television, internet, etc.) or beach, stadium, hospital, etc. where it continues. Informal learning environments aim to increase their knowledge and thus to gain the ability to solve the problems they may encounter in their daily lives. Informal learning takes place in our daily lives, at home, in our neighbor, in the park, when we visit the museum, when we watch television, when we read books and magazines, and when we talk to friends or family. It encompasses all learning environments and forms other than formal education and is covered by lifelong learning as a process. When we talk about informal learning, media comes to mind first because media is the most effective and widespread informal learning tool. In the digital age, informal learning environments have expanded with the Internet and information Technologies. Informal learning in adult education is emphasized either as learning for personal development or as vocational technical learning to meet the needs of the labor market. Examples of informal learning include activities in social networks, direct access to information needed via internet or intranet calls, and coaching among employees in workplace.
Informal learning is inherently difficult to understand and difficult to manage. However, it has started to gain serious importance for institutions. The anticipation that the prevalence of informal learning in institutions will increase is not surprising for today's business world that is growing and developing with technology. Many corporate employees have to keep up with the mass of e-mail, the constant flow of new information, and the ever-changing business needs; therefore, the need for immediate access to the information it needs at any time is much more important than the opportunity to receive education in traditional ways. This is where informal learning can meet the demand for access to the information requested at the time and provides a different opportunity for employees to be more productive and knowledgeable in the work environment. Its benefits are:
- Encouraging employees to share information with each other
- Effective in achieving the organization's strategic goals
- Reinforce and support formal learning
Areas of informal learning in workplace:
- Familiarity with the work environment: orientation, company values, who is official, who is informal, who is informal (introduction of experienced, expert employees)
- Warming up employees to tasks related to business processes: Sharing how to do a job (from the point of view of the person), improving computer skills, using office equipment
- Knowledge sharing: Best practices, sharing lessons learned (correcting mistakes, benefiting from the experience of expert colleagues, accessing specific information
- Developing managerial skills: Current managers share with colleagues their past experiences and practices or experiences in the work environment