What does informal learning mean?
This is when we learn socially rather than on our own. We choose where and how we learn according to our interests rather than a predetermined curriculum. Meaning is made and shared through experiences and the expertise of the group rather than being reliant on one expert, the teacher. Price shares an excellent table showing formal versus informal learning on p27.
In Chapter 2, we read about the free, online, open learning course that had to introduce peer assessment to cope with the large numbers of students enrolled. Learning for these students in the social space through technology, where they have choice in their learning, is much more engaging and successful for them than in a traditional school setting. p24
Price explains that it's not just the technology but 'it's about behaviour shift as well'. Many e-learning school classrooms have the flash, shiny technology but are still using these with 'traditional face-to-face methods of teaching and learning'. p28
Social learning can't be ignored as the open learning phenomenon sweeps the globe. Price shares an example based on the powerful learning experience of his own son, Jack in 2005. 'From years of face-to-face apprenticeship, to just a few weeks of online study' his young son mastered Tuvan throat singing !! p29
The shift is moving from the way we teach to the best ways to learn - 'the rise of informal learning'. The teacher/student relationship is changing from 'vertically downward (expert to novice) to horizontally networked (participant as expert and learner).'p34
Price challenges us by asking why the students who are the end-users of formal education should attend school five days a week, using technology that's slower than what they could use at home, when their 'passion outside school is to develop skills, learning alongside people of all ages, effectively organising their own curriculum.' p37
Price then shares examples of 'tacit learning' (learning through osmosis) and the benefits of 'action learning', working with others on problems, acting and then reflecting on those actions. p41
He concludes by stating that we need to create 'the right learning environment, culture and context, which brings people together to learn from each other' p41
How can we apply this in our own setting ?
I believe it needs to start with our staff. We need to create the optimum informal learning conditions for our staff to experience 'tacit' and 'action' learning and allow time to reflect on these actions.
A focus on 'learning to learn' ourselves through exploring social media and sharing our learning with each other are part of our 'informal' staff sessions this term.
Our ability to let our students and each other see us as learners is key.
We can't understand how to create the optimum learning environment for our students until we are open to experiencing being 21st century learners ourselves.
After reading Chapter 3 of OPEN we will go SOFT.Next week I will share how we can go SOFT.