E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Informal Learning Findings – Additional Notes

Very few times have I bumped into a presentation material around the world of Learning and Knowledge that I may have enjoyed just as much as the one I have just been through from Jay Cross, over at Informal Learning. It is titled Informal Learning Research Findings and you can watch it over on Informal Learning Findings. There are just so many things that Jay mentions throughout the presentation that in itself it is just worth while the time to go through it. It is not too long so you can just sit down, relax and enjoy the show. Because it certainly has been one of those presentations worth while listening and learning from. At least, for me.

While going through it I just couldn’t help taking some notes about some parts of the presentation that I thought were quite interesting and worth while mentioning over here, in my weblog. Thus I have decided to clean them up and share them in this particular weblog post and you will see why I am so excited about this particular presentation and why I will be sharing it with quite a few folks:

Jay talks about networks, which I think could be considered as communities, why not?, and how they are now more key than ever before in helping spread and share knowledge as they would be the connectors that would make it all click through, no matter if those communities are top-down or distributed / virtual. Don’t forget to check his impressive evolution of human governance and evolution of Learning charts and you will know what I mean with this statement.

He also indicates how learning plays a key role in the way we humans adapt to change, specially when those changes are taking place at a very high pace. It is certainly a situation where we rather adapt and learn or we will just fail at the attempt. And this has certainly reminded me how crucial it is for every individual to find their own place within their community so that they are given the chance to adapt and learn from the community in order to be able to share their knowledge with the rest of the community members. Thus it is an interesting fact that should not be ignored that a key success factor from any community member to succeed within the community would be how quickly they are able to adapt and learn how the community operates. Failure to do so will certainly provoke an awkward situation within the community which in most cases would not be sustainable.

We all know that KM is all about learning, in most cases, and Jay makes a great point when he distinguishes between two different types of learning: formal and informal (And within informal he mentions rapid and deep informal learning). I think that this is an important distinction from the perspective where KM has always been following in most cases and up to no long ago the formal learning path and now more than ever we are realising that perhaps even much more powerful would be the other type of learning, the informal one, as a way to help personalise and compromise the way sharing of knowledge takes place. Indeed, that informal learning approach would be much more meaningful and powerful, in my opinion, than the traditional way of sharing knowledge and learning since it would involve some degree of commitment from the individual whereas in the past it might have been missing altogether.

There are also a couple of quotes that I have really enjoyed while listening to the presentation and which reminded me as well very clearly how important just in time learning can be for Knowledge workers while they are performing at their jobs. Learning, indeed, is no longer taking place away from the daily job and perhaps that is a good thing as it introduces one key success element to make it all work: a context. Here is an interesting quote from the presentation by Charles Handy:

    “The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms”

And the second quote that I certainly agree with 100% is Jay’s words themselves where he indicates that

    “Most learning takes place naturally. It is informal. You learn it from working with other people, seeing what they do, hearing stories, all kinds of things”

Then further on, Jay comes to talk about a listing of different tools for informal learning and I must say that this is the part that I have enjoyed the most from the whole presentation. And the main reason being because one of those tools is Conversations. According to him Dialogue is the most powerful learning technology on earth. Conversation is the origin and conveyor of knowledge. Conversations are the stem cells of Intellectual Capital. You may be wondering why I am so excited about that particular quote and that specific tool, right? Well, here it goes, I have always considered weblogging and weblogs as conversations and I have been advocating for them for a number of years following that same definition and I think it is about time that weblogs are added into the pool of options to boost and improve informal learning whether you are talking about a large enterprise or a small business or whatever the organization. It just works and provides that unique scenario for people to get together and through different conversations share their knowledge to learn from one another and generate that best of breed Intellectual Capital that could then be reused by others in order to provide much more quality in the deliverables than having to reinvent the wheel all over.

Also another tool that he mentions that I have been commenting on for quite some time is the need to nurture and foster your virtual connections. Why? Because in a virtual world like today’s where most of your team mates are distributed it would be a must to boost those virtual connections if you would want to keep healthy working relationships with your colleagues and again the usage of weblogs and Instant Messaging could help a lot ! Instant Messaging is no longer meant for teenagers or perverts like I have heard once a few years ago. Things have changed now and as such it is an imperative we cannot longer ignore. Nurturing your virtual networks is something that has got to take place on a daily basis, just like checking your e-mail first thing in the morning. Yes, something that you cannot live without. Almost like breathing.

Don’t forget to take a look at the rest of the different tools he offers for Informal Learning. I am sure you would be able to identify more than one and relate to them a great deal. At least, I did. And that would be it, folks. Those are some of the most significant notes that I took while watching this superb presentation. Kudos to Jay for sharing his thoughts and insights from his research and for taking the initiative of creating the Informal Learning weblog! Really nice work and a highly recommended reading !

[tags]Learning, Informal+Learning, KM[/tags]

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  1. Hello Jay and welcome to elsua ! Excellent stuff ! I shall be looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book as I am sure it will be just as good ! And about the unworkshops, if you are going to blog about them over at Informal Weblog, then I shall be getting a good overview about them and, perhaps, who knows, I may be able to participate in some shape or form. Again, thanks for dropping by and for sharing that great presentation and all your research findings ! Appreciated.

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