Informal learning at workplace

When do you learn the best? Through practice and solving real-life issues at your workplace. And where does that come from? Experience. Now, to close any loopholes in experience-based knowledge, organisations need to have a well-designed training program. But if you stick only to a rigid and structured training methodology, you are bound to face some roadblocks. There have been so many innovations in technology and business that structured, offline learning modules are fast becoming obsolete. Replacing traditional training is informal learning – which you may deliver via several channels – including digital platforms. Today, we will discuss how you can sustain informal learning even when working remotely.

What is Informal Education? How Can Informal Learning be Sustained in Remote Workplaces?
Self-Directed Informal Learning
informal learning

To progress further in their career paths, employees cannot rely solely on experience. Value addition is a summation of relevant, targeted, and practical learnings after completing any project. Usually, your high-performing staff members tend to generate as many takeaways as possible from their tasks. And as explained by author Tom Gram, “Everyday Experience Is Not Enough. Experts continually challenge their current performance and seek feedback from their environment to stay in a more or less permanent learning state, mastering conversational skills but continuously raising their bar. This deliberate approach to learning from experience is what separates top performers from the norm.”

Therefore, in both formal (formal education meaning) and informal learning, employees require to take ownership of their development. Additionally, feedback is vital. Now, when you want to deploy feedback-based learning at a remote workplace, you can go for a platform like PlayAblo. The software has the element mentioned above and offers the scope to track your learners’ progress — all from a digital platform. Moreover, you should know that a comprehensive informal learning program cannot be only about annual development plans that specify particular work tasks and conference attendance. Informal learning must never be only for those prone to making the most of their employment experience.

Read More: The Role of the Chief Learning Officer is More Than a Custodian of LMS

As explained by Mike Sullivan, this is what he had to say about informal learning and what is formal education: “Our company is ambitious. For us to win, we need to juggle being a low-cost producer, a growth company and a great place to do great work. The low-cost producer aspect can often be the most challenging. For certain investments, we sometimes have an affordability challenge. While we clearly can’t afford poor performers, we also can’t afford heavy investment in formal training. As a result, we expect employees to be accountable for their own development and then provide customized support to make that happen.”

Kevin Munson, CLO at Sears, added: “To get the most from informal learning opportunities, employees need to look for and take advantage of those opportunities.”

The Plan-Connect-Reflect Model
what is informal education

In this model, companies use work events to help employees extract learning from such activities. These events can include meetings, regular interactions, and even online training sessions while working remotely. In short, the learner plays a vital role in orchestrating informal learning activities. Munson explains this further in his statement: “With informal learning, employees serve as their own instructional designers. They identify their learning objectives, evaluate their performance against those objectives, and arrange or find real-life experiences to address those objectives.”

How Can You Sustain Informal Learning in a Remote Workplace Model?

Plan: In the planning stage, there are two stages. In the initial stage, learners must recognise their long-term learning objectives — inclusive of behaviours and skill improvements. They additionally have to identify the opportunities that will help them in achieving their goals. Next, we have daily planning — where the L&D department can help learners in outlining a structure. The plan can include activities such as interactions with various stakeholders. It is the responsibility of the learning leader to design the daily calendar by placing clear expectations and offering guidance for training aligning with the business goals.

Read More: Dear VP of HR, What is the Impact of COVID-19 on Your Approach to Workplace Learning?
formal education meaning

According to Sullivan, “We use a disciplined approach to jumpstart employees’ self-development. We focus them on developing targeted skills that will increase their personal effectiveness and have them do this as they work to achieve their individual and functional goals … all in alignment with our annual company objectives. This avoids directed informal learning always have to be a ‘plus-one activity.’”

While making an online training model for your remote employees, you can use the same approach—record quick synopses of a day’s events and the informal learning opportunities that might surface.

Connect: Here, organisations need to maintain a follow-up of the events that had occurred on a particular day. One can then identify unseen opportunities for learning. Employees can connect their learning goals with the day’s activities through 5 ways — practice, impact, observe, listen, and set up.

As we already know, practice makes perfect. Again, an employee should be able to provide feedback on the behaviours observed. Munson explained how to measure employees’ training impact: “Employees need to ask themselves, ‘How will I know if I’ve done it right? What outcome will I use to evaluate the impact of my behaviour?’ How others respond to their performance is a good leading indicator of their success. Specifying the response they want upfront makes it easier for them to give themselves feedback in real-time and adjust their behaviour on the fly.”

perfect e learning

In remote informal learning, you can easily set up an impact-measuring process, especially when implementing an LMS like PlayAblo. Additionally, observations can later be used to design the best training practices.

Read More: Importance of Measuring eLearning Effectiveness in 2021

Ad: PlayAblo’s Enterprise-Grade Micro-Learning platform is for the modern corporate learner. Moreover, micro-Learning, along with assessments and gamification features, ensures learning outcome measurement along with sustained engagement.
Find out more and request a custom demo!

Reflect: Reflecting on whatever a learner has absorbed from an online learning session can help them detect and recall nuances. As explained by Munson: “Reflecting allows employees to evaluate the impact of what they’ve done in the absence of any direct feedback. It also allows them to connect their learning experiences from the day with past learnings. This helps them identify patterns in what is and isn’t working for them.”

When your employees in remote locations take quick notes and practice journaling, they can quickly discover trends in skill development. It allows the evaluation of progress more efficiently. In offline training, recording the sessions can aid in self-reinforcement. On the other hand, online learning platforms reduce the time and effort required to track and organise learning. While daily planning and reflecting are essential for prompt and sustained learning, these steps need to be relatively quick. Otherwise, the model will become burdensome, and its active use likely will end abruptly.

what is formal education

You can achieve a solid informal learning structure for your remotely located employees by setting small daily goals and frequent reinforcement. Try to keep track of the plan-connect-reflect model to identify opportunities for regular support. Sullivan had to say this about support: “In our corporate functions, we use development-focused monthly one-on-ones for review, feedback, and reinforcement of learning activities from the prior month. This is typically an employee-driven meeting. They set the agenda and use their manager as a coach and sounding board.” He added:

“The key to building learning habits is to ensure that the behavior being developed gets timely feedback and reinforcement. One way we support this at Sears is through a social networking site where employees share a specific example of behavior or approach they are working on and the impact that it had. For example, employees often describe an opportunity to provide a positive customer experience, what they did to achieve that and how the customer responded. Others then provide social reinforcement for what they liked and offer suggestions for improvement. This is both a brag board and a help desk for skill refinement.”

To sum it up, short and organised planning guides employees in identifying opportunities in online training modules and leads to the perfect e learning experience. Connecting them to a personal goal boosts growth and adaptability. Well, that’s all!

Ad: PlayAblo’s Enterprise-Grade Micro-Learning platform is for the modern corporate learner. Moreover, micro-Learning, along with assessments and gamification features, ensures learning outcome measurement along with sustained engagement.
Find out more and request a custom demo!