Sunday, November 11, 2007

Informal or Personal Learning?

Tim Hand considers the topic of informal learning vs. personal learning in Re-form(al) learning. Tim questions the use of the term 'personal learning', as it seems to be double speak in the context of learning. He suggests that 'informal learning' might be more useful.

I've been entertaining similar thoughts, but have come to a different conclusion.

I'm not particularly pleased with either term. Both seem to carry the implication of an unstructured or unfocused learning effort.

I've been wondering whether 'self-motivated learning' is a more appropriate term. I'm not completely sold, but it seems to capture the dynamic without leading the assumptive mind astray.

I'm interested in opinions others might have on the topic.


Tom Haskins said...

I wrestled with this issue a while back. I'm fond of Tim's challenging our use of words. He recently concluded that PLE had become an over wrought term that had lost it's meaning.

I've had trouble with "informal learning" because it's merely the opposite of 'formal learning" and stirs up lots of debate, misunderstanding and attempts to compromise. Likewise: self motivated, intrinsic or inner directed learning sets up opposition.

I've come to favor the term "discovery learning" because it infers "learning by discovery". The term references learning as a verb and the process of learning. It deals with how learning happens rather than what learning is. Rather than oppose delivery learning, it puts the two in proper proportion or perspective. Search engines results are a delivery to us, but our experience is a discovery by us. Finding our way though a terrain occurs by personal discoveries, but it requires the delivery of a terrain to explore. There would be no discoveries with no focused efforts and self motivation. There are no discoveries when forced to consume required content -- other than discovering the instruction is useless, boring, de-motivating, etc.

I suspect this use of "discovery learning" captures some of what you're also seeking.

Aloof Schipperke said...

I like 'discovery learning'. It definitely captures the essence of my point, and avoids the dichotomies.

Wonderful comment - thanks!