Connectivism and Informal Learning

Interesting to see the trend towards informal learning (refer to Viplav Ed Talk), via different pathways – connections with eportfolios, learning landscape, and community of practice approach and connectivism.

Does it mean that learning embraces all aspects of learning – both formal and informal and education? Once quoted, 80% of informal learning comes from social networking. I still would like to see how formal learning is distinguished from informal at this age, as it seems that there are a lot of formal and informal learning happening at institutional level. It could be misleading to conclude that attending a course in an institution is a pure formal learning, or attending a class strictly comes under formal learning. It depends on the context, the structure of delivery. Blended delivery (a combination of face-to-face and elearning) could be a combination of formal and informal if networking are blended with formal classroom face-to-face teaching. And eportfolio could only be useful if the learning is goal directed or oriented from the learner’s point of view.   More often, such eportfolios have been institution driven where learners have to submit- for competency assessment (Recognition of Prior Learning – RPL) to ensure compliance to assessment criteria and accreditation of courses.

All these formal and informal learning could be confusing to the educators and learners in terms of what, why, how, who to learn with, especially as these approaches are relatively recent, and there has not been a comprehensive research comparing and contrasting each of the approaches.  Every approach has its own merits and demerits.  As explained in my previous posts, where there is a solution, that could lead to various implications and problems.  Changes at systemic and personal learning and education are involved in each of the approaches.   A clear understanding of these approaches via Connectivism, Network Learning and Community of Practice perspectives could help learners in focusing the “most appropriate and adaptive” approach to adopt.

Would it be easier if we could clearly indicate why and how informal learning could complement and supplement the formal education in simple terms?

EPortfolios, community of practice and Learning Landscape, social networking are part of the non-formal learning approaches, and could be viewed in the context of Balanced Score Card basis. You give a weight of importance and time to each of them, based on pattern-recognition, way finding and wise selection of connections and time-management.  You could then continuous implement and review the effectiveness and efficiency of each approaches on your own learning.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle of learning is implicit in all these approaches.
Whatever approaches that the educator and learners have considered, what is most important is WIIFM (What is in it for me (the learner))? 

What are your passions?  What interest you?  How would you achieve those goals? Who would you be connected to?  How much time could you afford to spend on those communities or network connections?  Do you learn through such informal network connections?