Have you ever observed a group of children playing together? Notice how they so easily learn from each other. They quickly learn new words and new ways to use their old words. They learn to build, climb, jump, and run. All from the other children around them. This learning is actually magnified when the children begin to form stronger relationships with one another. This type of learning is called informal learning and it is the natural way for humans to learn. As we progress through life and enter the workforce our the most effective ways to learn do not change. The same learning strategy we observe in the group of children works for people in the workplace.
In the 2008 results of the Analysis of Education and Training Data, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that informal learning accounts for 70 percent of the learning happening in the workforce today (Ramey, 2008). Web 2.0 technologies can be used as a frame for a connected workforce and facilitate informal learning. Learner controlled learning tools such as Web 2.0 technologies including wikis, blogs, and other social networking platforms can facilitate informal learning and serve as the cornerstone for the Talent Management strategy in some organizations.
Many organizations understand and support the need for a learning culture. Of greater significance is their willingness to abandon obsolete learning and development strategies. A new era is arising where organizations have carved out a budget for a talent management executive and team for the sole purpose of implementing a talent management strategy. These are substantial findings and the organizations moving in this direction should outperform their competitors. As with new learning approaches in the past, professionals must provide ways to measure the impact of informal learning through web 2.0 technologies to encourage more organizations to abandon obsolete ways to approaching workforce learning.
Here’s the paradox. Learning in organizations is 70 percent informal. Why do organizations spend 80 percent of their budgets developing formal learning programs versus investing and investigating ways to promote informal learning? Learning is best retained when the learner is engaged such as with a game the learner helped design or a fun walk to learn how the subject is tied to nature. I use this philosophy when I tutor and it has proved to work well.