Thursday 8 December 2011

Integrating Formal, Informal and Social Learning


   The thing I don’t like about the 70-20-10 model, which I reviewed last week, is that social learning isn’t really a separate category from formal and informal learning, but a different category of these.  Ie, you’ve really got (or should want to have) these four different types of learning going on (descriptions taken from Jane Hart):



I think it is more useful to think about learning in these four ways, and to ensure that learning solutions and environments consist of all four (where appropriate).

However, the point from yesterday’s post still applies – it’s about creating a portfolio, not managing the percentages. There needs to be an overarching learning strategy too.

The model is also useful for thinking about measurements as I think these need to change in nature for each different form of learning too (whilst again, forming part of one holistic approach to learning measurement).



Moving from formal to informal measures become less quantitative and objective and more qualitative and subjective. This is just because the learning activities we are trying to measure become less tangible, and the relationships between these and the outcomes and impacts we are trying to achieve less direct and more complex.

Similarly moving from individual (or individual within a group) to social, measures become less about something which can be reported, and more about something that has to be discussed – ie more of a basis for conversation.

Incidentally, I was involved in some tweeting about this around the #SDDT unconference (another example of social learning) the week before last (see picture at the top of this post).

I don’t think there is a problem with this – some things are just naturally best measured in qualitative and conversational terms. But of course, there are things you can do to make them more quantitatively measurable and reportable. For example, technology is one big help.

But the type of technology that needs to be used also changes according to the type of learning. Despite some discussion on this, I still believe that the LMS has a vital role in supporting individual, formal learning. I think new media tools like blogging (social media tools which are not of necessity social) probably play an increasingly significant role here, helping to plan and capture the ongoing learning that takes place (a bit like an electronic learning log).

Over on the social side of things, social networking and social learning systems (social learning systems being social networking systems with more focus on learning content etc) are the prime tools.



But again, all of these technologies need to be integrated together as well.

It’s why I’m so pleased that the sponsorship of this blog, previously with Plateau, has been taken over by SuccessFactors, post Plateau’s integration (particularly now SuccessFactors itself is being acquired by SAP which I also do some work for).

Plateau gave SuccessFactors an LMS capability and Jambok and CubeTree, recently integrated as Jam, provide the social media and networking capabilities referred to above.  So you can do each separate, and the whole, thing.



This post is sponsored by SuccessFactors.

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  1. I still think learning is formal, informal and social ... and then it breaks down by individual, team, project and organizational.

    I'll write more about it in the new year.

    All the best Jon. See you at #lwf12 ???

  2. Thanks Dan, I look forward (as always) to more of your posts.

    Re Learning Without Frontiers - I'll be at the HR Directors Business Summit in Birmingham on the 25th but at Learning Technologies at the Olympia on the 26th - so hopefully, yes!


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