credibility for informal learning

28 02 2005

have to admit that it’s always kind of bugged me that i took to the arguments and data regarding the prevalence of informal learning in the workplace.  i hardly blinked at the statistic that 80% of all learning is outside of formal learning contexts like instructor lead training.   it just made sense to me.  but why?

well one of the why’s hit me square between the eyes the other day as i was working on my job search "elevator pitch".  what dawned on me was that i took to the concept of informal learning because that’s exactly how i’ve built my career.  i learned regression analysis from rebecca oxford when we were crunching numbers for a needs analysis at heinle & heinle and i needed

to program it into lotus 123.  i learned japanese negotiating tactics
from reading books and talking to friends who had experienced it. i’ve
learned software program after software program by trial and error,
some books, a couple great cheat sheets, and intentional play.  i’ve intentionally placed myself in positions where i’d be challenged to learn new things constantly.  which has lead to a very broad base of knowledge, skills and experience across the business terrain.

however, for the second job search in a row my lack of an mba or an ivy on my college have been brought up as  obstacles.  job requirements list an alphabet soup of certifications that can/should appear behind your name.  each of them a testament to a formal learning process.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
while we’re trying to build the roi of informal learning, can we figure out a way to "certify" it too?


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3 responses

1 03 2005
Kim

Amen! I, too, lack the alphabet soup behind my name, but I have years of experience that proves that I can do the work and even adapt as technology and learning methodolgy demands.

I have also worked with, hired and subsequently fired several trainers, ID’s, and multimedia project managers… all of which had the appropriate degrees.

To play devil’s advocate, even though I know that there is no guarantee that having a degree means the prospective hire is going to work out, but going through the interview process to fill a position is grueling! When you have a stack of resumes on your desk and you have to narrow it down for the first round of calls so that you can further chop that list down for face to face interviews, one tends to gravitate towards the quantifiable. i.e. DEGREES. It’s sad, but true…

I would be in the exact same boat as you find yourself and may find myself their in the future if my current venture into a e-learing software startup company doesn’t pan out for me… 🙂 Keep your fingers crossed!

I wish you luck, however! What area of the country are you looking in and more specifically what type of position are you interested in?

BTW…Keep up the good work on the blog!

15 06 2005
simone

I have just recently finished an assigment of informal learning, and no doubt In recent years, informal learning has seen an increase in its development and affectability; with the increase in e-learning, project-based, and outcome- driven learning models

Informal learning is a result of natural opportunities for learning to occur in everyday life and activities, for example, observing, phone calls, on-the-job training, and asking the person in the next cubicle for help. Marsick and Watkins, suggests that informal learning does not put any demand or determine the learning process of the individual as informal learning is personal and puts the individual in control of their own learning- self directed learning, incidental and tacit learning. Another advantage of informal learning is also immediacy and relevancy, with fast and non-cost able learning.

The fact that informal learning is make up of all the above characteristics, indicates that informal learning will never be certified. Blogs and online learning have dramtically increased the use of informal learning, and i think the only way to acknowledge the information retrive, is to do exactly what we are doing now… blogging and writting comments.

As sad as it is, i don’t think informal learning will ever be certified!!! How can certify something that is not under competency standards???

15 06 2005
Dave Lee

Simone: I agree with you right up to the end of your comment. My disagreement is two part.

First, you imply that informal learning doesn’t feed competency. You most certainly can certify someone’s competence in something with no concern about where or how they learned it. In fact, from my experiences, it’s not always clear to me if the classroom experience is where I learned the knowledge that allowed me to pass a test or a class.

Second, I’m not sure that everything needs to be under competency standards. There are other forms of measurement and certification. Think about Ph.D.’s for a moment. Our society, in general, hold Ph.D’s in high regard. But Ph.D.’s are almost exclusively granted in a very subjective process that culminates in a vote by your committee.

so I’m not so sure that the knowledge we gain through our informal learning processes can’t be certified. In fact, there are some universities who have developed degreee programs that accept “life learning” and grant credits for that knowledge.

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