In 2008, ASTD partnered with the Institute for
Corporate Productivity (i4cp) to help organizations better
understand how to tap into informal learning. For the purposes
of this study, informal learning is defined as a learning
activity that is not easily recognizable as formal training and
performance support. Generally speaking, it takes place without
a conventional instructor and is employee-controlled in terms of
breadth, depth, and timing. It tends to be individualized,
limited in scope, and utilized in small chunks. Some examples
include online social networking, accessing "fingertip"
knowledge through Internet or intranet searches, and
peer-to-peer coaching. [more]Informal learning already exists in
organizations, and many managers identified it as a valuable
tool. In the ASTD/i4cp Tapping the Potential of Informal
Learning study, 41 percent of respondents said informal learning
is occurring in their organizations to a high or very high
extent. Another 34% of respondents said they believe informal
learning is occurring to a moderate extent. These respondents
seemed optimistic about the incidence of informal learning
increasing. More than half of respondents reported informal
learning would increase in their organization over the next
In the ASTD/i4cp Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning study,
most respondents said informal learning enhances performance to at
least a moderate extent and 46% of all respondents said it improves
employee performance to a high or very high extent. But these
responses are not the only indicators of why managers should devote
attention to informal learning. The study also found a significant,
positive correlation between the degree to which informal learning
occurs in organizations and their reported market performance.
Source: Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning (ASTD/i4cp).
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