Friday, January 29, 2010

77% of learning = Informal

Jay Cross states that 80% of learning is informal (in his book informal learning). Well, that's a nice figure that I've seen resurface in many places and articles (I even like to quote it myself!). The 80% is backed-up by various sources. However, I wonder how you can really measure this. Personally, I buy this estimation because it links with the way I personally learn. I hardly attend formal conferences and trainings because I get so little out of it. Nevertheless, I guess other people with different learning styles may get more out of it.

Now Jay Cross has a great blogpost with convincing arguments. At a company, Sara Lee, 20 employees were asked to list work-related learning activities (the exercise took place in 2002). They compiled a list together and were then asked to estimate how much time is spent on each activity. This was the list:

- Experiences on the job 45%
- Manuals and instructions 2%
- Training programs 8%
- Networking 30%
- Mentoring & coaching 3%
- Special assignments 2%
- Workshops 10%

You could say 77% is highly informal (experiences on the job, manuals, networking) and the rest is more formal. This is a strong case for strengthening informal learning and supporting people to optimize their own informal learning processes, for instance by helping them to use social media to set up their own learning activities, for instance reflecting on experiences on the job in a blog, networking via Twitter, etc.
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