Trainer's tip: Recording informal learning

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What's the best way to record informal learning? Nick Hindley explains what works for him.

Nick HindleyWhatever system you decide to implement, hand written log, on-line blog, formal personal review report etc., you will need to ascertain what the motivation is for individuals to carry out this activity on a permanent basis, forming positive habits.

The problem for a lot of people will be that they cannot see or may not want to see the benefits of this ongoing activity. Even if they start to take action and keep some record of their informal learning they may not feel a conscious gain for a while, which may be beyond their own period of acceptance.

You will need to find different ways of motivating different people so that they all carry on doing whatever method you decide on, long enough for most to experience some sort of benefit.

The methods you choose will need to suit your own people. Some that have worked to a degree in the past for me are:

Choice – if you can offer a range of ways to capture the learning and appeal to all learning styles this will help. For some this may be a vocal session, possibly facilitated or structured conversation with peers.
For others it will be a written format of some kind and for some it may be the need to do some activity which allows them to think things through such as walking or going to the gym.

Reading periodicals and other materials can provide valuable informal and unconscious learning as people compare and reflect automatically when reading, so I would personally include this as an option. These forms of informal learning are as 'valid' as the written. I reflect during my homeward journey each day and then again in the shower the next morning.

Bribery - awards, rewards and handouts for keeping an up-to-date record or contributing to an intranet site.

Recognition - jumping on anyone who gets some benefit from this early on and publicising this with a lot of exposure for that person (does not work with some people).

Threats - regulatory and mandatory requirements from the company or an external regulator. In theory this sounds quite promising but without some other incentive many people trust to luck that they will not be the one who is chosen for assessment.

Professional growth - many professional bodies run their own schemes so encouraging more staff to get qualified and join such bodies may help (if this applies to staff in your business).

One issue many people have is collating records if they belong to more than one body so if you can agree a single format that satisfies any bodies represented in your business you may get a better response from the staff.

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Recording informal learning

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