It is often said that the highest level of learning that involves the deepest cognitive impact on an individual is informal learning.
Informal learning is a great outlet for reflective practice or experiential learning. Learners enjoy the autonomy associated with informal learning. They gather knowledge from multiple sources, establish a pattern and choose what to believe and practice. But before we go any further, what exactly is informal learning?
A definition coined by the training industry stipulates that informal learning refers to learning that occurs away from a structured, formal classroom environment. Informal learning comes in many forms, including watching videos, self-study, reading books and articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, social learning, coaching sessions and games. Basically, informal learning is a style of learning in which the learner sets their own goals and objectives.
Characteristics of Informal Learning
- There are no guidelines or set formulas to the methods of learning; no organization.
- Informal learners are highly self-motivated
- There is the element of spontaneity in informal learning
- No curriculum
- The world is the classroom
- It is an integral part of lifelong learning that builds up one’s character
Benefits of Informal Learning
- Creates a low stress environment with no formal testing that often leads to high pressure situations.
- Informal learning activities are activities that easily flow with and mesh into one’s daily life. Even when one is not aware that they are necessary learning, they are actually attaining a level of skill development through informal learning.
- Learning through informal settings is highly intuitive and therefore easier to grasp and gain understanding or prowess.
- Without the presence of performance pressures, informal learning engages one’s curiosity. Individuals are bale to freely dive into their interests and have fun while they are at it.