jay cross on informal learning

1 08 2006

jay cross hits on some key themes for moving informal learning forward in an interview with elearning america latina – which jay has published the translation of on the informal learning blog.

in this short interview, jay advocates for training departments taking responsibility for learning, not just training.  nothing new there, but he does go further by offering concrete ideas for demonstrating, in real business terms, the power of attending to informal learning.

he also advises training professionals to begin experimenting with the new web technologies. this i couldn’t agree with more.  if you are an instructional designer and you don’t know how a wiki works or the various uses of tagging systems, you better find a class soon (jay’s unworkshops for example).  it won’t be long until literacy in these tools will be requisite to do your job.

i’d add a tangential comment to hr executives and senior managers of learning to take a look at their job descriptions for leaders and managers of their learning function.  are you looking for people who have an understanding of the new technologies? 

  • do they maintain a blog? 
  • have they read one? 
  • can they explain how a wiki can be used to enhance learning?
  • do they understand social networking tools? 

do you expect that someone who’s 15-year experience has allowed them to perfect building facilitation schedules in excel will come up with the viral learning campaign using podcasts and an expertise location database that you really need?  this is an new world that has some very new skill requirements.

in the last question of the interview, jay is challenged regarding the ability to measure the impact of informal learning.  while a bit general in time, i think his answers are a great starting point for us to really start defining how we can and should be judged by the organization.

maybe a bigger point in all of this interview is that learning professionals have got to learn how to market what we do.  figure out what our customers (the rest of the enterprise) want, how they talk about it, build our solutions to meet their needs, and package it in a way that makes sense to them. 

i’ve been a fan of jay’s for a while and it’s been an incredible opportunity to watch as he’s taken on the task of figuring out informal learning.  i’m happy to see him pushing for practical applications linking them to real performance objectives.  his forthcoming book on informal learning should be on every learning professional’s must read list.

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One response

6 08 2006
Jim Belshaw

I have put up a long post on Learning Circuits on informal learning and courseware. It includes a discussion of your conference post. I think that the informal learning issue is well worth pursuing.


Jim Belshaw

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