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PREFACE to Informal Learning

PREFACE to Informal Learning

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Published by Jay Cross
Several chapters available free at http://internettime.pbwicki.com
Several chapters available free at http://internettime.pbwicki.com

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Published by: Jay Cross on Mar 10, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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© 2007 John Wiley & Sons
THIS IS A BOOK about knowledge workers, twenty
centurybusiness, and informal learning. I first heard the term informalLearning from the late Peter Henschel, then director of theInstitute for Research on Learning (IRL), who told me:People are learning all the time, in varied settings and often mosteffectively in the context of work itself. "Training"
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learning of all kinds
channels some important learning butdoesn't carry the heaviest load. The workhorse of the knowledgeeconomy has been, and continues to be, informal learning.For thirty years, I'd been designing, cost
 justifying, and marketingformal training programs. Now this distinguished
sounding fellowwas telling me that people learned more by accident. Back inCalifornia, Peter and I met at IRL to talk further about informallearning, communities of practice, anthropological research, andlearning as engagement. I reflected on how I had acquired myprofessional skills: watching master performers, trial and error,bull sessions with friends, faking it, reading magazines, and,above all, just talking with others. Conversation was a moreeffective teacher than school.Peter was right. Most teaming about how to do a job is informal. If your organization is not addressing informal learning, it's leavinga tremendous amount of learning to chance. Is that okay? Notany longer. This is a knowledge economy.This online version of Informal Learning differs from theoriginal. Most illustrations are in color. Many items arehyperlinked. I’ve fixed typos and errors where I find them. Andof course this is free.You can buy the book on Amazon. At this time, the price is $34.40.
Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, aworld where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for mare than certainknowledge.
Informal learning, that's what we call the learning that takes placeout of school.
Informal, adjective: casual, familiar, easy, congenial, simple,unpretentious.
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Most corporations invest their training budget where it will havethe least impact, as shown below.In July 2002, a three
day event entitledCreating a LearningCulturerekindled my interest in informal learning. Convened byMarcia Conner at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business in Charlottesville, it was clear from the start that thiswas not going to be the typical graduate school colloquium.Marcia told us we were the experts, so no one was going to beteaching at us from the front of the room. We were seekingdiscovery, not answers. Here are a few of the comments from thefifty assembled gurus and rebels:"Institutions suck the life out of people. I want to be fully alive, not just going through the motions.""Our DNA makes people so much alike. We should build on our similarities, not our differences.""You don't stop work to learn. Learning is the work.""People like change; it's exciting. People don't want to
changed."The Darden event encouraged me to think even further out of thebox, and in 2003 I wrote a white paper entitledInformal Learning,the Other 80 Percent, which described IRL's findings and addedMarcia's and others' suggestions on what to do should anorganization choose not to leave learning to chance. Thefollowing is excerpted from that white paper:

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