Group Two Wiki Notes: Informal Learning

2603256287_e9f68bbaef_t.jpg Informal learning, and the role of the mentor in choice making.
Technologies that facilitate collaboration and communication are opening up the learning environment beyond the traditional classroom walls. In a world where learning experiences take place outside the classroom as often as within it -- or possibly even more often -- informal learning is a key means of constructing knowledge. Paired with mentoring, informal learning is a powerful tool for education.

Please consider any five of the following questions as you explore the theme of informal learning and the role of the mentor in choice making.

1. What tools support informal learning and connecting with mentors?

  • personal learning environments, personal research portals, etc. where "all you know" is public can serve many purposes: everyone can become a mentor depending on their relative knowledge of an issue, they are 24x7 connected tools, they are fully social, and are fully scalable
  • e-mail still is the simplest and most effective of tools. Time is the key point. We cannot afford complex environments.
  • Voicemail (for illiterate people)
  • Look out about what tools are available everywhere, i.e. higher & lower income countries
  • RSS as a pull-technology (vs. push) that copes with personalization and mass-education at once, with the role of the curator (vs. the "expert")
  • Recommendation tools


2. Who can serve as mentors? How can they be matched with learners?

  • Communities of learners, social learning, a keystone of informal learning. The social dimension of informal learning is crucial.
  • More curators rather than experts: collect existing knowledge/content, create it when it is non-existent, share the collection and the methodology that was used to build it, etc.


3. Which subjects or disciplines are best suited to informal learning and mentoring? Which are least suited?

  • Online education does not substitute hands on learning, practice, first hand experiences
  • The challenge: how to create situated learning
  • People that is able to quickly find and map content that is relevant -- and tools that help people in performing these tasks
  • Counterintuitively, the more complex subjects/domains are, the more they benefit from the tapestry of content and experts/insights that gather together around new ways of learning.


4. What kinds of choices are mentors especially helpful in making?

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5. What are the unique implications for the K-12 level? the postsecondary level? for lifelong or independent learners?

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6. What are the policy implications?

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7. What are some promising examples? (please list URLs if possible)

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8. What are some of the roadblocks?

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Action Steps

List the top three to five action steps that could be taken right now towards implementing this idea. Which people or organization(s) might be able to take each action?

1. Cultural change: learning happens - outside the institutions - and educators have to admit that and enable/boost it
2. Build around open educational resources, open technologies
3. Create sandboxes and empower "sweepers/botchers", build degrees of freedom, both at the macro level (the Ministry gives more freedom to institutions), and at the micro level (the institution gives freedom to their staff)
4. Transform/create brand new institutions