“Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. Informal learning is like riding a bike: the rider chooses the destination, the speed, and the route.” ~~ Jay Cross ~~

“What Did You Learn Today?”

When was the last time that you asked that question? Who did you ask? Questions of this type are mostly asked by parents when speaking to their children after school. Many of us have the misconception that learning is something restricted to a classroom. But when you think of all the important lessons you’ve learned in your life, chances are most of them were learned outside the classroom.

The world of education may be seen as divided into two different worlds – formal and informal. Formal education is pretty much everything that happens inside of classrooms and organizations with structured curriculum and assessment, while informal education is everything else.

The site “Our World In Data” has calculated that formal education is on the rise worldwide. Their data shows that by the year 2020 over 80% of the worldwide population, above the age of 15, will have received some level of formal education throughout their lives. And it is rising every year.

While there is no doubt that access to formal education around the world should be considered a basic human privilege, not enough emphasis is put on informal education.

Let’s go back to the question posed at the beginning. There is an old saying that “you learn something new every day.” So what did you learn today? Give some thought to this question. It may change the course of your life.

The School Of Life

We are constantly learning new things. The limits of the human mind are endless. Just think of how much an individual learns before first grade. We learn how to talk, walk, take care of our personal hygiene, conduct social interactions, and so much more.

All these things happen in informal settings.  In fact, the vast majority of learning happens informally. This is true for workplace learning too. Jay Cross, an American futurist who popularized the term “e-learning” and championed the cause of informal learning for employees, claims that 80% of a person’s workplace learning is informal.

The challenge of informal learning, is that it  requires the learners to engage in self regulation. There are no papers that need to be written or exams to study for. There is only the learner’s curiosity and desire to learn new things. Curiosity is what drives us forward as a species. The simple question of “why?” might be the most important one in history. This question has been the driving force behind infinite achievements and discoveries.

The internet is a game-changer when it comes to learning. The 21st century is a digital age where we  can find answers to nearly any question, within a few minutes. According to the International Telecommunication Union, as of 2017, nearly half the world’s population had access to the internet. That is 3.7 billion people! This number is expected to rise steadily over the next few decades. Theoretically, these billions of people can access an infinite amount of information on whatever topics interest them.

Current estimates done by the site “Internet Live Stats” calculate that Google receives over 76,000 search requests every second. That comes out to over 6.5 billion searches every day. Think about that number – 6,500,000,000. That is billions of people independently looking for information every day.

What Microlearning Can Do For You

Microlearning (a.k.a. micro learning or micro-learning) refers to a short,, brief and granular unit of study. These bite sized units are designed to fulfill a specific learning outcome. Microlearning is particularly suited for the  fast paced, on the go, life style that characterizes our era, which is why it is being  increasingly embraced by many learning experts for both formal and informal learning.

A recent study conducted at the Dresden University of Technology has shown the positive effects that Microlearning has on memory retention when compared to formal learning. Many organizations today have recognized the advantages of Microlearning and have started adopting this format for training their employees. This allows workers to become experts at specific tasks, without the need of a full academic degree.

How Knowsome uses microlearning

We, at Knowsome, are harnessing the power of informal learning and taking Microlearning to the next level. Knowsome automatically  prepares a learning path composed of Microlearning objects, on any topic of interest. All you have to do is type a topic into the search bar and you will receive a structured Microlearning path about that topic.

The learning path also offers suggestions for related topics, enabling the learning process to continue for as long as you like. This “instant access” to whatever knowledge may interest us is a life-changing ability.

It is more evident than ever that  learning in today’s world has gone far beyond any classroom. We need to embrace the fact that we are all lifelong learners. The old expression of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” does not apply to the human mind.

Learning does not end when we finish school. That is when it really begins!