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Moving from courses to supporting informal learning

April 1st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

This is the first of a series of posts on informal learning. the idea was largely inspired by my trip to Bucharest earlier this week for the launch of a new European funded project on Lifelong Learning. The main aim of the project is to raise awareness of the importance and potential of learning especially in the workplace. Three groups have been identified as being of risk in the labour market – young people with low qualifications, older people with low qualifications and recent  graduates. The project has undertaken a major baseline survey with these groups interviewing some 15000 individuals from the target groups and talking to 120 employers. The results of the survey have only just been compiled so it is too early to draw any proper contusions. A quick glance at the figures reveals a very low percentage of people presently involved in learning with more of the graduates prepared to undertake training if available than the other groups, although showing a marked decline in enthusiasm for training if they have to pay themselves. The early figures also show considerable differences in internet usage between the groups, suggesting that there is a generation gap in ICT skills in Romania. However further analysis is needed particularly to examine sector differences and rural . urban differences. Internet access can still be problematic in some areas of rural Romania.

The project launch consisted of presentations and a workshop. Alongside the Minister of Education were representatives of the Labour ministry, employers and trade union representatives and leading researchers. My colleague Eileen Luebke and myself were the international guests.

You can see my presentation below (although it has few words, I guess you can get the drift of what I was talking about).

The presentation caused a lot of controversy. Previous speakers (and there were a lot!) had assumed that the idea of lifelong learning was to increase access and take up of training courses. Many initiatives had been referred to – to produce a database of courses, quality indicators for courses, second school opportunities for those without qualifications, more flexible courses, credit based qualifications etc. etc. But all were based on the premise that learning is synonymous with formal attendance on a course.

I quoted Jay Cross as saying that some 80 per cent of learning at work is informal and this caused huge interest  so much that I was asked to repeat this for a television news interview. There was also interest in the idea of using the internet to support informal learning and as to how workplaces could be changed to facilitate learning.

So… I think it is time to start putting some of these ideas together. This morning I launched a shout out on Twitter for any research about the extent and context of informal learning. I will add any replies to a new area on the Pontydysgu wiki. Over Easter I will start writing up some notes on some of the issues as I see them around this topic. Watch this space……

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2 Responses to “Moving from courses to supporting informal learning”

  1. Jay Cross says:

    Graham, great to see this. I look forward to the upcoming chapters.

    People who are interested in following up on the 80% figure may be interested in this research


  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Many thanks for this Jay – will compile all links people send me onto a wiki page.

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