Why learning transfer and informal learning go hand in hand
Because of the current words used to define it, we see informal learning as just the opposite of formal learning: a training with no trainer, a learning non-event with no predefined agenda and objectives, and even no learning specialist involved… But informal learning goes far beyond that. It has unique properties like being intuitive, self-directed, continuous, embedded in one’s daily life. It is also naturally adaptive and often collaborative. Informal learning can simply be thought of as situations when people take in knowledge and skills from their environment.
Does this mean that formal and informal learning are two mutually exclusive worlds with no common ground? Of course not, first because it is the same person who attends a formal training session and later goes on learning informally on the workplace. A person who attends a formal training session will acquire a new set of skills, knowledge, and methods that will eventually become his/her own resources. Whether you’re aware of it or not, learning transfer – or simply put, applying what you have learned – happens for the most part in the workplace, in an informal manner. For this transfer to happen, the person needs to be willing to enter a period of trial-and-error. Easier said than done of course. One of the challenges of learning transfer is well described by the “red pants syndrome”: coming back from a successful training course sometimes makes you feel you are wearing red pants in a team of dark suits. How will the rest of the team react: asking you to come back to the old habits or trying themselves the new attitudes and techniques you brought from the course?
This leads us to two conclusions:
Improving learning transfer is a key way to develop informal learning and make sure that it will remain aligned with the company’s priorities and objectives. A great way to maximize learning transfer is to use post-learning support solutions that will help participants to transform learning into action and sustainable changes. Coaching is definitely the top solution but obviously not all people can benefit from it because of the costs involved. That’s why forMetris has invested 3 years of R&D to develop FIL (ForMetris Intelligent Learning), the very first self-coaching platform. FIL is totally learner-centric and dedicated to improve learning transfer and impact in a positive and adaptive way.
To sponsor learning transfer is to sponsor informal learning that remains aligned with the company’s objectives. Beyond that, it is also a way to improve your learning culture. And if technology has already dramatically changed the way we learn, its contribution to learning transfer and impact on performance has only begun.