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Seb Anthony

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Recording Informal Learning


I've need to provide data on how many hours of informal training staff complete for the next quarter.

At the moment we don't collect or record this data. Although all staff have a personal development folder, it is not electronic and only 'advanced' users could even be hoped to record informal learning in it.

I'm considering using an online survey, but if anyone has any better suggestions they'd be gratefully received!
sam burrough

6 Responses

  1. a question and a suggestion

    Sorry to be unhelpful but what value is there in recording how many hours people spend in informal training?

    I can spend an hour reading a trade periodical but learn nothing, I can spend five minutes observing a colleague at work and learn a lot. Simply recording hours spent is a questionable measurement of value….little different from claiming that War and Peace is a more valuable book than Catch-22 because it has more pages. Or a set of accounts is better because they took longer to prepare.

    Perhaps of more immediate and secondary value (but admittedly more “cost”) would be to get groups to have a 30 minute “share” each month of “What I’ve learned”; this would help people to FOCUS on learning from their day jobs (intentional learning rather than intuitive learning), it would encourage them to REFLECT on their learning, thus RE-INFORCING it, it would give everyone the chance to LEARN FROM EACH OTHER and could provide you with actual EVIDENCE OF LEARNING rather than purely time passed.

    I hope this helps


  2. I like this dea

    I see a lot of value in legitimising informal learning, after all this is how we learn most of what is of greatest worth in the workplace….and elsewhere for that matter.

    The difficulty of capture and judgement of worth has often meant it’s easier to knock the value than find a way around the challenges.

    If it helps, I have kept a hand written learning log since February 1987 (there is a lot of talk about CPD and lifelong learning, but I actually do it!)…and 1167 A4 entries, around 950,000 words later I am still recording my informl learning.

    If this experience is of use let me know off line – I will be happy to help.

    All the best,


  3. I hope I haven’t misrepresented myself…
    I hope alan didn’t interpret my comments as knocking the value of the discipline…I agree wholeheartedly with Alan’s sentiments, my point was to question the value of simlpy recording the HOURS spent rather than the learning gained.


  4. Ah, well, Sorry
    My apologies, “Alan” is the person who I think I’m responding to when I go to put in a comment and the screen removes all but the original question…when you have a psychological disorder*, like wot I have got, this means that you forget the name of “Andrew” and substitute “Alan” instead. Please forgive me.

    Sorry again


    (*GSMS, Goldfish Short Memory Syndrome)

  5. Informal learning
    Hi Sam,

    Whatever system you decide to implement, hand written log, on-line blog, formal personal review report etc. you will need to ascertain what the motivation is for individuals to carry out this activity on a permanent basis, forming the positive habit that Andrew has developed.

    Andrew seems to have a high motivation to learn from his experience and probably get s a lot of benefit form the learning distilled from the personal log.

    The problem for a lot of people will be that they cannot see or may not want to see the benefits of this ongoing activity. Even if they start to take action and keep some record of their informal learning they may not feel a conscious gain for a while which may be beyond their own period of acceptance.

    You will need to find different ways of motivating different people so that they all carry on doing whatever method you decide on long enough for most to experience some sort of benefit.

    The methods you choose will need to suit your own people. Some that have worked to a degree in the past for me are:

    Choice – if you can offer a range of ways to capture the learning and appeal to all learning styles this will help.

    For some this may be a vocal session, possibly facilitated or structured conversation with peers.

    For others it will be a written format of some kind and for some it may be the need to do some activity which allows them to think things through such as walking or going to the gym.

    Reading periodicals and other materials can provide valuable informal and unconscious learning as people compare and reflect automatically when reading so I would personally include this as an option.

    These forms of informal learning are as “valid” as the written. I reflect on each day during my homeward journey each day and then again in the shower the next morning.

    Bribery – awards, rewards and handouts for keeping an up to date record or contributing to an intranet site.

    Recognition – jumping on anyone who gets some benefit from this early on and publicising this with a lot of exposure for that person (does not work with some people).

    Threats – regulatory and mandatory requirements from the company or an external regulator. In theory this sounds quite promising but without some other incentive many people truest to luck that they will not be the one who is chosen for assessment.

    Professional growth – many professional bodies run their own schemes so encouraging more staff to get qualified and join such bodies may help (if this applies to staff in your business)?

    On issue many people have is collating records if they belong to more than one body so if you can agree a single format that satisfies any bodies represented in your business you may get a better response from the staff.

    Best of luck.


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