World Cafe on Informal Learning

Inspired by Harold Jarche‘s unworkshop on informal learning, on September 26, as part of Learn @ Work week, I hosted a world cafe on Informal Learning for the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Society for Training and Development. The event was attended by 17 amazing people who work within the training industry in the Ottawa area. At the event, three questions were posed:

  • What is informal learning?
  • What would make you and your organization more receptive to informal learning?
  • How do you measure informal learning?

Here are the notes that were taken at each of the tables during the conversations:
During the debriefing the following themes were discovered:

  • Informal learning’s value is not always measurable in the same ways as formal learning
  • Informal learning can be connected to formal learning events
  • Informal learning is adaptable and flexible
  • A formal definition of informal learning is unnecessary
  • Informal learning represents a shift from “how I got it” to “having it”
  • “how I got it” represents degrees / certifications
  • “having it” represents demonstrated competencies
  • Informal learning is life as usual
  • No define, no design, no delivery, no assess
  • 80% of the budget goes to formal learning, which provides 20% of the actual learning
  • Formalization kills informal learning
    • Informal needs to stay informal
  • Informal learning is about the process
  • Employee engagement could be used as a means of measuring informal learning
  • One of the greatest things about the World Cafe format is the opportunity for people to meet, make connections, and have meaningful conversation. I’d like to invite anyone who attended to share their reflections of the event and possibly insights they have realized since the event, as comments to this blog.


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