ATD Blog

Use Informal Learning to Make the Most of Your Formal Training

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Recently, I was thinking about the objectives and expectations for my online workshop, Essentials of Game Design. In the course, you learn the essential steps to create a game in any type of learning program, whether it be e-learning or face-to-face. 

My goal is to have learners design and develop a game based on content for any learning program they may be creating. I guide them through the process, but how do I know that they’re able to implement the game beyond the workshop—back on the job? 

This uncertainty is why expectations are so important—they’re the key to succeeding in any kind of learning, particularly an Essentials Series class. The facilitators are giving you what you need to know to get started, but you need to take the next step. Ideally, learners should bring their own expectations and needs to the learning environment. Before any learning program, ask yourself, “What is my responsibility as a learner in the 21st century?” 

Informal learning also plays a big part in getting the most out of formal learning programs. How we grow our skills can be very dependent on informal learning online, whether it’s through searching Google, watching YouTube videos, talking to our colleagues, reading blogs, or connecting with others on social media. All of this helps us do more with the formal learning in which we take part. 


During my most recent Essentials of Gaming webinar, Kelly, a participant, reminded me of the importance of integrating informal learning with our formal programs. Without being asked, she took it upon herself to research avatar use and built them into a game template to use in her organization. On the last day of the webinar, she asked if she could share what she had done with other participants. 

Kelly had created a beautiful game background using custom avatars and designed a bingo template. Her initiative and creativity gave me a renewed sense of what the Essentials program can be when participants take the initiative to expand their knowledge and skills. 


What type of informal learning do you do and how does it improve your ability to perform on the job? To start a dialogue, leave your comments below. 

If you want to see what inspired Kelly to take the next step and put a solid game design in place, sign up for the next Essentials of Game Design online workshop. Hope to see you online in the near future!

About the Author

Barbara Greenstein, principal of Human Resource Prescriptions, is a performance improvement specialist providing proven and creative ways to improve human performance in the workplace. By identifying issues and opportunities for improvement, she helps organizations large and small meet their planned goals.

Barbara is highly regarded for her facilitation and instructional design skills. With over 20 years of experience in the training and development field, her mission is to help clients put the systems in place that will help them manage effectively in today's changing business environment while ensuring optimal performance and job satisfaction for all employees.

Prior to becoming an external consultant, Barbara's corporate experience included training and instructional design for Burger King Corporation, Pizza Hut, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). She completed her undergraduate work in consumer affairs and management at Florida International University and received a master's degree in human resource development, as well as graduate certificates in instructional design and total quality management (TQM) from Marymount University.

Barbara is an adjunct professor for the master's program in human resources at Chapman University in San Diego. She has also served as a facilitator for the University of San Diego's master's program in executive leadership program. In addition, she is a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), a certification awarded through the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) and the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Barbara is past president of the San Diego chapter of ASTD and an active member of ISPI.

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