Saturday, August 30, 2008

Informal Learning Survey

In an article in July's Learning Circuits magazine: Informal Learning, Overlooked or Overhyped?, there is an examination of a recent survey of Informal Learning adoption at various organizations. When I read though who was being queried and what the context was I was somewhat surprised:

"The core was an online survey of 1,104 human resource and learning professionals, who completed the survey between March and April 2008.
The majority of them (86 percent) were managers, directors, vice presidents, or C-level officers. Most of the respondents represented large enterprises (60 percent had workforces of at least 1,000 people) that operate in multiple nations."

I have several problems with what I saw in the article regarding the study:
  1. It's not clear whether they were asking these folks if Informal Learning was being sponsored or otherwise endorsed rather than spontaneously occurring.
  2. Depending on what they really wanted to ask and find out they may have been asking the wrong folks - i.e. if they wanted to know about true adoption that didn't happen to fall within the context of an organization's approved resources or practices, then many of these high level respondents might not have actually known what learning mechanisms their employees were or weren't using.
The questions that should have been asked then are these:
  • What if any Informal Learning programs and / or capabilities are being offered or supported by your organization ?
  • What Informal Learning do you think is occurring outside of that context and how do you track or other find out about such activities?
  • And of course, ordinary members of the organization should have constituted a larger proportion of those taking the survey (and perhaps could have been given their own specially tailored survey).
This would have provided a much more comprehensive view of who was really do what in the enterprise with Informal Learning and begins to provide a foundation to possibly bridge the gap between management and employees on this issue.

copyright 2008, Semantech Inc.

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