Informal Learning: Overlooked or Overhyped?
Informal learning represents a unique and somewhat mysterious
method in workplace learning and performance. But how much informal
learning is actually occurring in contemporary workplaces? Is it
helping or hindering performance on the job? Do learners even
realize the opportunity for gaining actionable information through
Organizations have begun to realize that the breadth of knowledge
gained through informal channels is comparable to that gained
through traditional formal methods. However, the specific
needed to harness the vast potential of informal learning remain
To better understand the impact of informal learning on
organizational performance, ASTD and the Institute for Corporate
Productivity (i4cp) recently completed an exploratory study on the
topic. The core was an online survey of 1,104 human
resource and learning professionals, who completed the survey
between March and April 2008. The majority of them (86 percent)
were managers, directors, vice presidents, or C-level officers.
Most of the respondents represented large enterprises (60 percent
had workforces of at least 1,000 people) that operate in multiple
nations. Findings from the survey suggest that many organizations
face a variety of issues in their handling
of informal learning.