Dear Informal Learning

Dear Informal Learning,

I understand from previous correspondence that you are interested in coming into my organisation and selling your wares. I’m always up for a laugh looking for opportunities to waste my time ways to help support people who want to learn and develop while at work. So sure, come on in.

There are some things, though, that I’d like your help with so I know better how to make people aware of who and what you actually have to offer? Please answer the below in good time before your impending arrival.

1) Apparently you’re already here?

I’ve been getting the message from different quarters that you’re already in and amongst the people in the organisation. When did you actually do this? Was it when we allowed people to read books in their break time? Or was it when people had access to the internet? Maybe it was when people were allowed to access various online social networks?

I’m confused because, if we did this without you, what are we going to do with you when we formally recognise you?

Which leads me onto my next question…

2) I understand there won’t even be a “you”.

You are some kind of ethereal being and there’s some level of expectation that we should just allow you to exist. HA! Right. So I have enough trouble getting people to accept that different people of different faiths are allowed to co-exist, and now I’m going to reinforce a message that says – “don’t worry people, just put your faith in people’s own L&D activity”.

Can you see I might have a challenge selling you in?

3) When you’re here, I can’t even acknowledge you?

Now this is the bit where I’m really getting close to my wits end struggling. When people are going about their learning “informally”, I’m not even allowed to acknowledge you did this because I then formalise the learning, and thereby you cease to exist and I stamp on all that it means to be human. *cries softly*

4) I can’t even give people an idea of how to utilise you?

In advance I’d like to give people a chance to succeed. You know, be excellent and all things wonderful. You’re meant to help me do that, but because of your very nature, I can’t give people an idea of how to make best use of you, because it’s an unknown advantage that needs to be organically grown. My head is really starting to hurt now.

I appreciate your time, and really hope you exist I get a response from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Sukh

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “Dear Informal Learning”

  1. Hi, I’m Social Learning and I’d like to visit after Informal Learning has been please.

    The difference between me and Informal is that I have a platform and you can count me, therefore making me much more effective.

    And isn’t being able to count it all that matters?

    1. Hi Social Learning,

      Thanks for being opportunistic, I knew I could count on SEO to make things happen.

      Right, so you’re all about this authenticity thing I keep hearing about? And engagement? And being all clued up?

      I really don’t know how you’re going to get in here. I’ve got someone else knocking on my door about how ‘L&D is dying’.

      Thanks anyway

      Sukh

  2. Dear Sukh,

    Thank you so much for your letter. I do detect a hint of cynicism in your words, so I’m encouraged that you are still willing to meet in spite of this, and I’ve captured a few thoughts for you based on the questions you pose.

    1. You’re right, I am already here. The thing is not everyone recognises me and some people need to be introduced to me before I can help them. Those that are naturally curious have already asked me who I am and are making use of what I can offer them. I have found that there as some people who still think that learning only happens in a formal classroom environment, often as some form of punishment(!), and we both know that’s not the case, so I’m here for the people who choose to find alternative ways to learn and develop. Perhaps recognising me gives people permission to do things differently, makes them realise they’re not constrained by convention???

    2. I won’t even be a “you”……. yeah, I can see your dilemma here Sukh, and I think I can make myself a little more tangible. You could think of me as a vitamin supplement rather than a meal replacement. I’d be the last one to suggest that I should replace formal learning. But I do think I’m a potentially nutritious addition to the learning menu. I don’t have to be an extreme alternative but I can be a valuable learning partner.

    3. You can’t acknowledge me? That’s a curious thought. And who makes these rules??? Denying my existence helps no one; acknowledging that I exist does not change the nature of who I am or what I do, it simply makes people aware that I am there. At which point they can choose how to use me or to disregard me.

    4. You can’t even give people an idea of how to utilise me…
    Then I suspect we’re all doomed! Like you say, we must give people a chance to succeed and showing people how to spot me and giving them examples of how to utilise me gets them comfortable with the concept and leads them to make exciting discoveries of their own about what works for them. I don’t want to be controlled by you but you are a skilled learning professional and I do think you’re in a great position to guide and encourage people about how to learn from any and every opportunity that presents itself. Your involvement doesn’t make me less organic. To produce a delicious organic carrot you still need a skilled gardener, right?

    I think we could work well together. We might need to relax a few perceived rules and steer away from what others might deem as a perfect interpretation of informal learning but what matters is what works in practice. If we can make it work and people get a good result then that’s us fulfilling part of our purpose.

    Our first meeting is going to be a great collaboration!

    Yours sincerely,

    Informal Learning

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