Most learning is informal in nature and takes place "beneath the waterline," so it is therefore much harder to track and comprehend its impact compared to formal learning. According to the ASTD and i4cp Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning report, informal learning clearly has a strong presence in many of today's organizations. Four in ten respondents said such learning is occurring in their organization to a high or very high extent, with another 34 percent indicating that it's occurring to a moderate extent.
Not only did participants in the ASTD/i4cp study acknowledge that informal learning plays a role in today's workplaces, but they also recognized that informal learning is a growing force within organizations and is becoming increasingly important for companies to understand and leverage. More than half the respondents (56 percent) predicted that the use of informal learning will increase over the next three years. This expected increase in informal learning is not surprising in the context of today's technology-driven corporate culture. There is now a need, as well as the ability, to learn on-demand rather than wait for more conventional learning opportunities, which informal learning addresses.
Informal learning also appears to have the ability to boost productivity. Many respondents (46 percent) said that informal learning enhances performance to a high or very high extent. A strong correlation was also observed between the extent to which informal learning occurs in organizations and the belief in its ability to boost performance. If an organization believes that some informal practice will raise performance, it is then more likely that the organization will actually embrace it.
Source: Tapping the Potential of Informal Learning(ASTD/i4cp)