The concept of informal learning is becoming more and more important with the spread of digital learning. The informal side of digital learning is also due to the fact that it has started to cover a significant part of the learning experience of the employees. Due to digital informal learning, employees working in the field of learning and development today need to reconsider all approaches.
Informal learning is a very broad concept. It can be planned or unplanned. Does not include configuration. Most of the time, it is not evaluated with a measurement tool and does not result in a certificate such as diploma or certificate. In the face-to-face world, informal learning can be handled in a very broad framework, from the learning experience that occurs when a baby touches a warm teapot to an adult learning at work with a question from a colleague.
The emergence and spread of the concept of informal learning is based on many years of studies in adult education. Informal learning, andragogy, and self-directed learning. These concepts emerged at a time when adult learning is based primarily on face-to-face learning experiences and we have not yet mentioned digital learning. As digital learning is becoming more widespread, the concept of digital informal learning, which emphasizes its informal side, has begun to be discussed further in the corporate learning world.
When we look at the informal side of corporate learning under digital learning, we encounter a world without boundaries. Think of yourself, your colleagues. Let's say you want to use the augmented reality, which is one of the important agendas, in your education processes. One of the first things you do is not to search for relevant examples of what has been done in search engines internationally and nationally in this title? Or when an employee forgets how to make a function while doing an analysis in Excel, doesn't he open youtube and see if there's a video explaining that function? Or, even if a software developer doesn't find any reason to think why the code he wrote doesn't work, isn't it one of the first things he does in an active forum to raise his problem and wait for the next answer? The examples above are informal learning experiences that are acquired through access to information for the purpose. On the other hand, don't you find yourself learning something new from a shared infographic image, for example, while browsing LinkedIn? Doesn't a blog content you follow on Twitter, such as Elon Musk's share, lead you to a whole new learning experience about your business, even if you don't have a purpose at that time? Did you not think much about how much you learned while watching the discussions in a Facebook group you are a member of? These are self-emerging informal learning experiences that encompass us as we travel through the digital world without a specific learning objective.
The world of digital informal learning is limitless but… As can be seen in these examples, it is not possible to define digital informal learning with limits. However, since all these digital informal learning experiences cannot be measured and evaluated by the learning and development units, their reflection on business processes cannot be addressed and often invisible. However, at the workplace or outside, the source of work-related learning experiences is increasingly becoming digital informal learning experiences. The title of digital informal learning compels us to think much more comprehensively beyond narrow definitions. Today, we need to review and renew all our approaches from educational design to learning analytics, taking this concept and its equivalents into consideration. Are we ready for this change?