What Form does Informal Learning Take in the Workplace?

In 2008, ASTD partnered with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) to help organizations better understand how to tap into informal learning. For the purposes of this study, informal learning is defined as a learning activity that is not easily recognizable as formal training and performance support. Generally speaking, it takes place without a conventional instructor and is employee-controlled in terms of breadth, depth, and timing. It does not include activities such as organized classes, workshops, and conventional job aids. [more]The ASTD/i4cp Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning study respondents clearly agreed that informal learning is taking place in their organizations. The survey data established the prevalence of informal learning in almost all organizations, and it revealed some of the better processes and tools for fostering informal learning. As many in the modern workplace would expect, e-mail emerged as the top-ranked informal learning tool at 68%. Accessing information from a company Intranet came in at a close second, with 65% of respondents citing its use to a high or very high degree. These responses reinforced that technology is a driving tool to create informal learning. Despite the growing recognition that informal learning is valuable, the firms surveyed reported only a small percentage of training budgets are devoted to informal learning. More than a third (36%) of respondents said they don’t allocate any learning expenditure to informal learning, and another 42% said they only allocate between 1% and 10% of their budgets to the process. These figures highlight the difficulty managers have in utilizing informal learning, even though the firms surveyed agreed there is value in this type of training. Source: Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning (ASTD/i4cp) Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.

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