What do google, airline magazines and museums have in common?
All provide informal learning – learning thatyou’re not planning for or expecting but comes naturally.
We think of www.google.com as the world’s biggest search engine. However, can you think of the times when the google logo depicted something else such as a holiday or anniversary of someone’s birth? How clever the logo was and further when you clicked on it, information appeared. That’s informal learning. You’re learning without any formal curriculum (right google?!)
Anyone ever have a delay on a plane? You’ve done your work, read your book, and decided to glance through the airline magazine, maybe read an article or two. Informal learning. In fact, I’ll bet airline mags are read more than any other publication because of that.
Museums and zoos todayconsider themselves educational institutions as much as anything. And yet how they do it is almost disneylike with getting you to read, try or listen while facts and information are magically shared. And they’ve all gone to websites with additional information, much like PBS does on their programs.
Now I’m calling this informal learning, but let’s be careful. It’s informal gathering of information. We don’t learn it until we use the information some way. So once you’ve seen, read or experienced something, pass it on. Your sharing and explanation will strengthen what you’ve read and turn it into something you can teach.
Informal learning. It’s all around us, especially when we don’t expect it. Yet there we are, learning when we don’t expect it. Learning what we may not have planned to learn. Informal learning accounts for 80-90% of what we know. Learn it, teach it, practice it, use it. Make learning fun and memorable.
Question for you: is the name informal learning too light? Do we need to call it nonformal learning, additional learning, or something else? I believe we need a center for informal learning(orwhatever we want to call it).