Evaluating the impact of informal learning

Whether you agree that 70:20:10 has a factual basis or not (Demystifying 70:20:10) it can not be doubted that a substantial amount of learning occurs outside ofclass room and traditional channels of learning. One only has to consider ones own life to realise the truth of the argument, this information is however in organisational term blatantly uninteresting. What is far more interesting particularly from an organisational perspective is whether we can evaluate the impact of this informal learning.

The problem is that the very nature of informal learning seems to defy our standard methods of evaluation. We can ask participants to fill out a post course questionnaire because there wasn’t a course. We can ask them if they applied their learnings as what those learnings were supposed to be are not clear.

Some people have suggested that participation rates in organisational communities of practice, social media and chat provide us with some form of measure. I am troubled by this because I am not certain participation leads by necessity to learning, although it would seem reasonable to assume that as participation rates go up the number of staff who learn from it must increase. To me this is deeply unsatisfying however.

The other end of the scale seems to be testing the competency of staff on a regular basis across some standardised areas and comparing this to staff member participation in informal learning opportunities and look for correlation’s or ask staff members what they think they have learnt over a period of time and test and evaluate their perceived learning.
The problem for me is that all of these ideas seem either erratic, vague or fraught with a host of other issues.

If anyone has any other ideas I would love to hear them.


About pauldrasmussen
Paul is the winner of the 2013 Leadership in VET Quality Award and the 2013 LearnX Learning Manager of the year award. A Thought Leader and Speaker on Organisational Learning, Professional Development, Motivation, Leadership, Management and Professional Ethics, he speaks widely and has published work on the areas of Learning and Development, Learning ROI, Business, Management, Leadership and Ethics. With Qualifications in Ethics and Bioethics, Organisational Learning and Development, Training, and Business Management and Leadership, Paul has worked in and with a wide range of public, private, government and not for profit organisations. He is currently the National Training Manager for Spectrum Training and the principal consultant with Rasmussen Learning. Specialties: • Organisational Learning and Development • Ethics (Business, Professional and Theoretical) • Learning Management and ROI • Professional Speaking • RTO Management • E-Learning • Management • Leadership • Learning Management Systems

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