Informal learning is the holy grail of learning and development in organizations, especially in difficult economic times… When we cannot spent on formal training, when those who approve budgets are skeptical of formal learning programs, when anything that has a clear cost attached to it is perceived more like an expense than an investment, we turn our attention to informal learning.
In my experience, none or very few organizations promote and support informal learning effectively. It is often synonymous with complete laissez-faire and the assumption is that employees will manage their own development independently from any structure provided by the organization, and often on their own time.
Robin Hoyle’s book, Informal Learning in Organizations: How to Create a Continuous Learning Culture, published last September, clearly points out that informal learning is learning outside of formal learning structure such as classroom training or online e-learning modules. However, it is not necessarily self-directed, and it is fully informed by the needs of the organization for competency development and performance improvement. The objective is to increase the capability of the individual, the team, the organization.
The author also cautions the reader about the current hype in use of social media to support learning and focuses on the fundamentals of integrating learning with work and finding simple yet effective ways to measure outcomes. Organizations often give up on measuring learning outcomes, especially with informal learning. It is difficult without a measurement of outcomes, to make a good business case for investing in learning, whether formal or informal.
This book is practical, straight to the point, and provides clear examples. I recommend it to all learning and development specialist who are struggling with integrating informal learning in their learning strategies.
Hoyle, Robin. Informal Learning in Organizations: How to Create a Continuous Learning Culture. Kogan Page, 2015.
And Google books will give you access to a limited number of pages of the book: