Formal Learning vs Informal Learning Infographic
If formal learning only accounts for 10% of what we learn, why do we even need it? And if informal learning is so great, why don’t L&D departments focus on it more? To answer these questions, your friends at Growth Engineering have called on the help of Formal Francis and Informal Izzy to show you:
- How formal and informal learning differ from each other
- How formal learning forms a solid foundation
- How informal learning helps capture organisational knowledge
- Why an effective learning programme needs to leverage both.
We can liken the difference between formal and informal learning to travelling on a bus vs riding a bike (credits to Audrey Polce for this metaphor):
- Once you jump on the formal training bus, your options are limited. You can hop on and off when the bus stops, but the driver picks the route and the speed – passengers are simply along for the ride.
- When you’re on the informal learning bike, on the other hand, you’re on your own and are free to make as many detours as you like – you can choose the speed, route and destination as you see fit.
As you can see, there is a huge difference between formal and informal learning. But one point of importance to note is that although riding your bike is freeing, it’s also lonely, at least in this scenario.
Informal Learning is Social Learning
But informal learning doesn’t have to be solitary. In fact, we use informal learning and social learning interchangeably. Really, it’s more like you’re part of a cycling club – you can pick and choose which bike rides you take part in, you can alter the route, you can race people or hang back and chat, you can take off on your own for a while and suggest a new destination halfway through. The more confident you become, the more you can mix up your bike rides.
Similarly, the more confident a learner you become, the more you will seek out learning opportunities and ways in which you can share ideas with other learners. You’ll find that once you stop keeping such a tight rein on yourself and your learning – i.e. ditch the emphasis on formal training – you will set learning free.
If you want to get the most out of Informal Learning, check out these top 23 tips to mapping an Informal Learning strategy to your online learning!