Informal Learning – Outcomes, Evaluations and Organisational Value

There has been a significant rise in the amount of discussion of Informal learning over the last few years

in no small driven I think by things like the 70:20:10 concept.  As I have spoken about in other posts  while I don’t doubt that people learn informally in the workplace, exactly how effective that learning is and how competent staff are as a result of it worries me.  One of the things that worries me is that we seem to have accepted notions like 70:2010 without having any firm evidence to back them up.  This seems to be the case with most informal learning work as well, we talk about it a lot and it sits well intuitively with everyone but I struggle to find something, some metrics or measurements that are strong enough to be able to convince the rest of the table (particularly the finance people) that there is real organisational value in  informal learning.

One of the issues for me is how do we measure the effectiveness of informal learning, how do we measure how effective it is in producing competence in staff and how do we validate that competence so we as an organisation can point to a staff member and say with some degree of certainty ‘This person is competent’.  The reason this occupies so much of my thinking is the issue of competence.  We need as an organisation to be able,  sometimes under legal proceedings that staff in particular areas were competent to carry out their activities and that they had undertaken sufficient professional development to maintain said competence.

This is difficult to achieve in my opinion with informal learning, without having to add an additional layer of assessment and validation on top of any kind of informal learning activities, which to my mind just make them formal learning anyway.

I would value everyone’s thoughts or ideas.

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2 Responses to Informal Learning – Outcomes, Evaluations and Organisational Value

  1. I think that trying to determine whether or not someone is competent as a result of by-product of their non-formal learning is like trying to use a yardstick to measure creativity. I fully by into the fact that some professions need to be able to prove staff are competent to perform their job. In those cases, you need to use formal programs. But, non-formal (or as you use the term informal — two different things in my mind) is by definition self-directed and self-assessed. Instead of focusing on ways to measure results..it would be better to focus on how to harness this learning and how to encourage this kind of sharing on an organizational level.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Christin,

      For us almost all of the work that we do requires us as an organisation to be able to show that we can provide evidence to support the fact that we considered our staff competent. Harnessing and encouraging it is one thing (and we do that quite well), but in terms of the organisation and staff competence it means nothing is we dont have evidence to support it.

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