Types of informal learning

Types of informal learning

by Greg Verhappen -
Number of replies: 5
I've been trying to identify trends in the types of informal learning that has been occurring in the discussions this week  and would like to propose some subgroups I've observed. I have three so far:

1. Casual Informal learning.  Conversation might be the best example for this.  In this type of informal learning there is no predetermined focus or expectations attached. It just happens and drifts along  currents and eddies of our inter-relating minds.  This kind of learning, it strikes me, is conducive to a lot of extension, lateral thinking, creativity, and elaboration.  Metaphor and story play important roles.  Episodic memory also plays an important role because temporal context is important. This is often exploratory in nature and expands boundaries and edges--like growing up.

2. Intentional informal learning.  (Perhaps my word choice could be better-if someone has something better...)  Mentorship might be the best example for this.  In this type of learning, an individual approaches the learning environment with a particular personal focus but it is self-directed with no set path. Ann talked about this when she clarified informal learning for me on May 17. (Thanks Ann!) This is conducive to the development of expertise.  Cotextualized stories and specific, directed feedback play important roles. While this expands learning, it looks different.  It more fills in and strengthens learning--like expanding your girth or strengthening muscles (depending on what you do with it--big grin).

3.  Relational informal learning.  Modelling would be a good example of this.  We watch and learn from each other regardless of our different levels of expertise.  These are the socio-cultural interactions that occur between us as we learn to communicate and develop cultures and sub-cultural ways of interacting. This  kind of learning is predominantly unconscious and tacit and cannot be pinned down to any one individual because the learning and knowledge resides in the group itself.  For example, this is my first exposure to something like this and it is very intriguing.  I am not only learning some really neat stuff, I am also learning by watching and trying to mimic what I've seen happen.  I apologize, in advance, if I stumble, but as stated earlier that's the great thing about a group like this...by nature it is very forgiving. THank you.

The problem with grouping such as this is that they usually occur in tandem so differentiating between them can lend itself to artificiality.   However, I liken it to the campfire...I'm sure the view on your side is different than mine and if I come over to your side once in a while you can point out some of the interesting features that I might not have seen otherwise. At the same time, I can't see or talk about everything regarding the campfire at once.

With that in mind, are there any more dimensions possible?

In reply to Greg Verhappen

learning games, especially between parent and kid

by chris macrae -

I am a great believer in learning games for many reasons, apart from them being about as informal as learning's embedded structures and trends over time may get. One of my other main reasons is that in so called advanced countries : both kid and parent are often tired at the (after school, after work) times they get left during the day. For the kid particularly, there's a magically different conversation loop for the parent who can find a game to fill the learning hole he or she perceives the child may most need to plug

Here's a bit of my own rehearsal of this current in my situation of dad of a nine year old girl. It also gives you an exercise to search out a shakespeare quote. If one comes back to you another time (or so as not to disturb this thread's flow into other matters) please feel free to log your shakespeare quote over at http://ninenow.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_ninenow_archive.html

Consider: the games a parent and child can play, particularly mental ones that can be played whenever you are waiting in a queue, pencil and paper games (most of which could easily be made into a virtual web - perhaps I only need to invent one popular one of those to buy back more parenting time from other jobs)

parent and kid can interview each other about the games we already play, what games to invent next; and parent to parent loops could exchange experiences

by nine, I certainly recommend playing mental hangman (the unfortunate english name for the game where one person thinks of a word, and the other guesses letters in the word being told which guessed do or do not exist in the word).
In the original game, you get about 10 lives (wrong guesses). You win if you get the word before your 10 lives run out). We don't bother with that in the mental game. Its a good game for building up vocabulary, spelling and mental visualising. It's also a game that puts you in the flow with your child to ask what other learning games could we play or invent.

For example my daughter likes puzzles and jokey conundra (I expect for the good reason that these are socially u on the playground at 9), but I would also like to start elevating these from the trivia to the deeper. I am wondering right now if I could cull Shakespeare for 10 of his most all purpose quotes.

What's the most learning full one on love that Juliet utters?

What's the most relevant one on how fools manage to resolve political conflicts by having the licence to openly question powerful people in ways nobody else has?

...The parent needs to know a few most puzzle-rich quotes by heart before being able to introduce this puzzle game at any bus-stop or other space when you happen to have some idling conversation time with your kid.

If you have a Shakespeare quote that you feel makes a wonderful 9-13 year old discussion puzzle, I would love it if you could log it up http://ninenow.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_ninenow_archive.html

In reply to Greg Verhappen

Re: Types of informal learning

by Bruce Jones -
Your Casual Informal Learning is what I have called "Water cooler Intelligence" -- substitute learning for intelligence.   I have found as much learning -- on the job type in a mentor/student format -- goes on around break time when the office 'caste' barriers are down.
In reply to Bruce Jones

Re: Types of informal learning

by Ann Busby -
Someone has already mentioned "unintentional informal learning" as well, a surprise "aha!" maybe embedded in formal or informal learning pursuits. I love this one-they are often very meaningful and memorable.
In reply to Ann Busby

Humour & Explicit verses Implicit Informal Learning

by Greg Verhappen -
I was listening ot the Festival of Funny on CBC Radio 1 (Canadian Broaccasting Corp.) in the car this morning and began thinking:

1. What makes something funny? My impression while listening was that if person A (race, gender, etc) says something it is funny because he/she is talking about himself/herself. Whereas if person B is not part of that same group it becomes some form of discrimination.

Thinking about how that relates to informal learning and what we have been talking about, I began to wonder:

Explicit informal learning is that wide variety of 'stuff' that we talk about and address in the course of conversations such as this. Implicit informal learning is all the other stuff that we have learned without intention or without referring to it. An example would be what we learn to count as funny.

This raised, of course, yet more questions:

1. What have we learned explicitly in this informal process? (Mischievous Grin...See all previous postings)

2. What have I/we learned implicitly in this informal process? The hard related question for me is how do I even recognize this? (An example of what I have learned is how I participate in creating threads, responding, participating, and tracking threads. As well, I've learned some more intangible things such as some of the values and interests of our many friends participating--everyone leads such interesting and diverse lives with so many common interests as well, reaffirmation of ideas, increase of faith in the learning process, etc.)  What about all the stuff in everyone's messages that I've absorbed unconsiously 'between the lines'?  What about my assumptions to begin with?

3. How do the explicit and implicit learning processes compare between the informal and formal learning contexts as well as with each other? See the grid below:





4. Is there a distinguishable difference between implicit informal and implicit formal learning?

That said, any good jokes around that might demonstrate this? (Big Grin!)

In reply to Greg Verhappen

Re: Humour & Explicit verses Implicit Informal Learning

by Hanan Gazit (VRider) -

Hi Greg,

Would U belive it? 0 results for "informal learning+cartoon" on Google pics search engine.