Self-directed learning vs. formal/informal/non-formal learning
Another way of categorising learning
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19 November 2009
In a blogpost by Jane Hart, she suggests another way of categorising learning situations/contexts.
"Rather than use the broad categories of formal and informal learning - terms which I think are pretty difficult to grasp, and which are being confused and abused if phrases I have read like "managing informal learning information" are anything to go by! - I have decided to categorise the use of social media in the following 5 different ways:
- IOL - Intra-Organisational Learning - how social media tools can be used to keep employees up to date and up to speed on strategic and other internal initiatives
- FSL - Formal Structured Learning - how educators (teachers, trainers, learning designers) as well as students can use social media within education and training - for courses, classes, workshops etc
- GDL - Group Directed Learning - how groups of individuals - teams, projects, study groups etc - can use social media to work and learn together (a "group" could just be two people, so coaching and mentoring falls into this category)
- PDL - Personal Directed Learning - how individuals can use social media for their own (self-directed) personal or professional learning
- ASL - Accidental & Serendipitous Learning - how individuals, by using social media, can learn without consciously realising it (aka incidental or random learning)
It may well be that these categories will need tweaking or even overhauling completely, but here is my first attempt at how social media can be used in these 5 categories, which will be a work in progress.
Harold Jarche takes these thoughts and puts them in a diagram in a follow-up blogpost.
"This had me thinking about how best to explain these categories to clients and folks not immersed in social media and learning. I started by looking at it as a 2×2 matrix, but of course there are five categories, so that wouldn’t work. However, the axes of the amount of direction versus group size made sense to me, so I created the diagram below. What jumped out at me after the fact, and I’ve highlighted in red, is that social media for learning requires a lot of self-directed learning, either individually or as a participant in a group/organization. Externally directed learning (FSL) is only one of five possibilities. Good food for thought on the future role of the “training” department, isn’t it?"
I was very interested when I saw Jane's work a couple of days ago as it relates directly to a discussion I had a couple of days previously with my DPhil supervisor. See my blog. I have been reading around the formal/informal/non-formal literature for the last few months and getting less and less happy about what I have been reading. Not least because of the degree of confusion over terminology and whether it refers to a learning style, a learning context, learning content, etc, etc. What I proposed to my supervisor was a 5 part categorisation of other-directed, self-directed, incidental, serendipitous, social. On further reflection, I was unhappy with social as a category, mainly because 'social learning' is a current buzz word, but also because social seemed to be at a different level, as captured in the idea of individual, group and organisation suggested by Harold.
Having done a bit more reading around self-directed learning, I am not happy with that, mainly because it is a concept which appears to have changed in meaning considerably over time and lost some of the sense of the self-taught learner outside the institution which it originally had. I am veering towards self-initiated and other-initiated, with sub-categories of intentional, incidental and accidental. I will be doing more work around this and am very interested to know more about what others are thinking.
17:08 on 19 November 2009