"Informal" and "social" learning are hot topics in the training world.
Informal learning is described as taking place without a conventional instructor and is controlled by the learner, therefore highly individualized. An ASTD/i4cp study shows 56% of the organizations surveyed expect an increase in informal learning.
Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner, in a recent ASTD presentation based upon their book The New Social Learning, define social learning as "Participating with others to make sense of new ideas". Over 85% of people surveyed say their organizations are planning on increasing the use of social media in the learning function.
What is our role as facilitators in the informal and social learning trends?
Certainly we need to understand the trends as learning professionals, but we also can ensure that learning happens. Without a framework for learning, one could say that informal and social learning as defined could result simply in a conversation. With a framework like experiential learning that drives us to share and reflect on experiences, develop conclusions and best practices and plan for future application we turn those conversations into learning.
So our role as facilitators for informal and social learning can be to provide that framework for learners to share and discuss what they've learned. By providing questions to consider, monitoring discussions on social media and providing guidance when appropriate, facilitators can add value to informal and social learning.
Carol Delisi is Chief Learning Consultant of her company, Facilitating by Design. She has been helping adults learn for 20 years.