Been reading through Jay Cross's new book - "informal learning - rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance" during the holiday break.
Way more learning happens in the coffee room than the classroom, but firms continue to spend way more on formal training than informal learning - there is a huge disconnect right there. The theme is similar in KM - formal structured tools, top-down mandates, ROI and the smells of project management dominance, do little to enhance agility, awareness, creativity, shared understanding and meaning - which add the real value.
Jay talks about unblended learning, emergence, grokking, envisioning, unconferencing, connecting, conversation, community, web2.0 and JDI (just do it). He makes the point that classes are dead, that every learner needs to cultivate an ecology, share via voicing, communicate using stories and build common text by collaborative editing (wikis).
Formal learning is like riding a bus, it goes, starts and stops when & where someone else decides (bus driver and urban transport committee) - informal learning is then like riding a bicycle, you choose the time, route and destination.
Jay has written this timely book in the form of short stories and vignettes, recounting his experiences and perspectives. I did not find much new stuff, although there are many interesting examples and truths, but Jay managed to hit the high spots so often, I was nodding in agreement as I read along. Clearly we have to assume responsibility for our own awareness, learning and critical inquiry, Jay neatly illustrates the tools, hints at the practices (which need more refinement) and paints the landscape.
On a different note:
I really like this distinction by JSB around the difference between learning to 'be' and learning 'about', which I feel gets at the core of the quest for informal learning - It is a new individual orientation that we need to master the changing nature of knowledge.
So when last did you reflect on your informal learning practice(s)?