Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Informal Learning - the other 80%

I went to another interesting breakfast under the auspices of AHRI with guest speaker Neysa King, Leader of L and D at American Express. Some of her thoughts are summarised below:
1. She asked the group to give some thought to what impact the following areas have on L and D- organisational factors
external factors
2. There is a definite paradox between learning input and learning output and the research is indicating that 80% of learning happens informally. We therefore can't leave this to chance.
3. At American Express, 2 key elements underpin informal learning - fostering learning communities and providing people with the right skills to learn effectively in informal settings.
4. Informal learning tends to be unstructured, short, self-guided and it doesn't involve travel expenses! People learn informally through observation, through coming together to problem solve, attending meetings, coaching sessions, newsletters and chatting to colleagues. It is just in time learning that happens in short bites and relates to what "I need to know how to do right now".
5. One of the key competitive edges that an organisation has is related to its knowledge capital and how do you ensure that this rich learning is spread through the organisation? The people who create the most value in an organisation are those who know the right people, the right stuff and the right thing to do".
6. Employees who have the capacity to learn are more versatile in adapting to future conditions.
and if the organisation can create a platform where conversations are fostered, the knowledge of the organisation will be better harnessed. This entails a shift towards a learner-centric culture where modules are delivered in short, sharp ways with lots of flexibility and peer mentoring is included.
7.AMEX has adapted a radio-type format that includes 'best practice calls'. This is not top-down driven and instead includes the kind of information that learners want to know about. People can jump in and listen to any part of the 45 minute call and the calls are also recorded and kept for 90 days.
8. In addition, mentors are being trained in how to ask the right questions. Look no further than the techniques used by Andrew Denton in Enough Rope programs for some tips on how to do this.
9. The gen Y style of learning has implications for informal learning. The expectations are for peer discussions in a safe environment as well as elearning. Don't measure success rates by completion of elearning programs though as they rarely complete - they get the information they need and move on.
10. Team leaders are provided with templates, movie clips and activities for team meetings so that they can engage team members and ensure that the learning that is needed is conveyed in short chunks.

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