3 Ways to Support Workplace Informal Learning


In our last Distributed Learning blog post, we discussed ways to capture social learning. Now, we’ll show you how to use that data so you can support and enhance that learning within your organization.

What is informal training?

Learning Happens Everywhere

Because people are constantly learning in the workplace, it's important to take action to support and enhance these types of informal learning experiences in your company or organization. (Remember, informal learning examples may include peer-to-peer conversations or web searches, or online videos.) And getting started is easy with the following steps.

1) Identify and promote experts.

When you map out social learning in your organization, you’ll find that certain people are regularly credited as sources of learning on particular topics. Whether these people are subject matter experts or just great at explaining certain areas, they’re valuable sources when it comes to informal training in your organization.

Often, people will find these internal experts on their own (e.g., your data shows a majority of employees learn from these people). However, unless these experts are publicly known within your organization, not everyone will have the benefit of learning from them. Furthermore, some workplace learners may waste time and resources looking for information when they could have simply reached out to an internal expert.

By publishing areas of expertise, perhaps on an intranet or staff directory, it’s easier and quicker to find the right people when needed. And by using your captured data about informal learning, you’re ensuring that you’re promoting the most helpful experts and the most popular topics.

2) Enhance online community management.

When it comes to online learning, use your captured data to help improve the overall structure of your social learning platforms.

For example, you might discover that two groups are learning about the same or similar topics. Bringing those groups together could benefit everyone involved. On the other hand, your data might tell you that people learn best in smaller groups, which then influences your choice of platform tools and setup.

3) Plan office layouts and seating arrangements.

Use your data about in-person social training to determine office layouts and seating arrangements that promote and reinforce informal learning.

For example, create a seating arrangement that easily allows certain people to be near certain internal experts. Or, rearrange desks if one team is regularly learning from others whose desks are on the opposite side of the building.

Up Next: Track & Support Work-Based Learning

We hope you’ve been enjoying our series on Distributed Learning. In our next post, we’ll explain how to track and support work-based learning in your organization.

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Want to learn more about measuring learning, evaluating its effectiveness, and exploring next steps? Download the Essentials of Learning Evaluation eBook to get started today.

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Andrew Downes

About The Author

As one of the authors of xAPI, Andrew Downes has years of expertise in data-driven learning design. With a background in instructional design and development, he’s well versed in creating learning experiences and platforms in corporate and academic environments.