HR: Business must wake up to the power of informal learning

Business must wake up to the power of informal learning. Peter Crush, 01 October 2009.

HR must ditch traditional training for informal leaning, said experts at the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition (WOLCE).

 Informal learning – where staff share their own learning through online discussion boards, video-postings, and instant messaging – is the future, said Peter Butler, director of learning at BT.

“We found 74% of our staff didn’t like formal learning, while 78% admitted they learn more from each other. As a result we have introduced ‘Dare2Share’, a YouTube-style portal where anyone can post videos, podcasts, write blogs or advice threads on any areas of learning they can impart.”
The scheme, still in its pilot stage, has already saved 10% of the company’s formal learning budget.
His views were echoed by Nick Shackleton-Jones, the BBC’s online and informal learning manager. Speaking at a separate presentation to delegates, he said: “We’re witnessing the death of training as we know it.”
He added: “Top-down courses are history. Rapid development tools, incorporating knowledge sharing, are the only way ahead. Staff don’t need to retain information any more, they just need to go somewhere where they can reference it. Organisations have to help people share information. The trainer of the future is someone who helps people to share what they already know.

It’s encouraging that business is beginning to acknowledge informal learning – it is to be hoped that our learning systems really wake up to its significance. Schools take note! Certainly the development of a personalised educational landscape will have informal learning at its core.

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