This edition of Training Industry Magazine provides insights we can use to broaden the way we create and manage learning experiences and opportunities. Informal learning approaches add to the playbook that learning and development (L&D) teams can use when tasked with changing the behavior of their company’s employees.    

So, what is informal learning exactly? Informal learning includes both nontraditional learning approaches like storytelling or mentoring as well as non-structured content types like articles or video clipsThis definition allows us to think unconventionally about the entire learning experience and introduce new approaches or content types into the structured learning journey.   

People may get nervous when exploring the idea of creating structure around informal learning because there is a sense that it may negatively impact what made the learning great in the first place – the organic nature of the learning experienceHowever, I believe that formalization allows us to recognize the impact that informal learning has on employee performance.   

Our research has shown that learners prefer informal learning, and the effectiveness of training is increased when learners experience at least some portion of the training in a modality they prefer. By focusing on the complete journey of the learner, and adding structure to that journey, we will be able to better understand the impact of all elements of the learning experience. Additionally, this focus will increase the relevancy of the programs we create that will enable learners to find the information they need and learn in the flow of work  

The great news is that technologies like learning experience platforms and even traditional learning management systems provide us with the capability to create the structure and learning pathways for employees by co-locating the curated informal content with the formal learning. Having these materials accessible to employees in one central repository ensures that learners have access at the point of need. This also provides L&D with transparency into how learners are interacting with the content and can inform any necessary changes to improve the employee learning experienceThis formalization will help us make better decisions, selections and set better priorities for the future of our programs. 

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the perspectives shared in the magazine. Please feel free to send along any suggestion for future editions of Training Industry Magazine for us to consider.