Step 4: Decide what can be addressed using non-formal approaches

The new learning architect

Over the past year we have been publishing extracts from The New Learning Architect. We continue with the fifth part of chapter 11:

Having identified the situations in which a formal approach is necessary, your next task is to decide how non-formal interventions can contribute to meeting the remaining needs in question or to support formal learning.

Non-formal solutions are likely to be appropriate when:

  • on-going efforts need to be made to ensure that the skills and knowledge that employees gain through formal training are successfully transferred to effective job performance;
  • there is no requirement for the learning in question to be formally assessed;
  • on-demand learning is not enough, i.e. when aided performance would damage credibility or when smooth and speedy performance is a priority;
  • the employees in question need to be kept up-to-date with on-going developments in their fields of expertise or prepared for a business change.

Top-down approaches to non-formal learning, such as on-job training, coaching, mini-workshops, rapid e-learning, white papers, podcasts, webinars, internal conferences and online video, are likely to be the most appropriate when:

  • the knowledge and skills in question are important and/or used regularly;
  • the employees in question are less experienced and/or less independent as learners.

Bottom-up approaches to non-formal learning, such as the use of communities of practice, open learning and continuing professional development, will work well when the employees in question:

  • have little commonality in terms of their needs;
  • are motivated to learn and develop;
  • have more job experience;
  • are more independent learners;
  • have some discretion over the way their time is allocated (or can be allocated time specially to engage in these activities);
  • have access to the necessary communication channels, e.g. internet access.

Coming next: Step 5: Decide what can be addressed on an on-demand basis

Return to Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

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About Clive Shepherd

Clive Shepherd has written 240 post in this blog.

Clive is a consultant specialising in the application of technology to learning and business communications. He was previously Director of Training and Creative Services for a multinational corporation and co-founder of a major multimedia development company. For four years he was chair of the eLearning Network.

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