Creating learning opportunities: informal learning John Cook Learning Technology Research Institute

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Creating learning opportunities: informal learning

Structure of workshop (90 mins)

  • Brief introduction (15 minutes)

  • Break down into groups (30 minutes)

    • Discuss one or more of questions (negotiate with John so we get coverage)
    • Appoint someone to make notes and report back
  • Each group report back (15 minutes)

  • Discuss issues raised (25 minutes)

  • John pulls out main conclusions (5 minutes)

Informal learning

  • People are now averaging about 15 hours a week on informal learning (Livinstone, 2000)

    • Employment
    • Housework
    • Community work
    • General interests
  • Yet very little of this informal learning is supported by e-learning.

No single definition Informal Learning

  • Attributes of informality and formality (Colley, Hodkinson, et al., 2003)

    • location/setting
    • process
    • purpose
    • content

Questions for group discussion (1)

  • Is there a distinction between ‘life-long learning’ and ‘informal learning’?

More questions (2)

Yet more questions (3)

  • One problem is that a large section of people are not getting the opportunity to use digital media for informal or indeed formal learning opportunities and are hence being digitally excluded.

  • How can we design digital media that plugs into the motivations and emotional states of 'real people' in a way that empowers them?

  • Is there a linkage between the digital divide and the learning divide?



  • Colley, H., Hodkinson, P. and Malcom, J. (2002). Non-Formal Learning: Mapping the Conceptual Terrain. A Consultation Report, Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Leeds, November 2002.

  • Cook, J. and Smith, M. (2004). Beyond Formal Learning: Informal Community eLearning. Computers and Education, CAL03 Special Issue, 43(1-2), 35-47.

  • Livingstone, D. W. (2000). Exploring the Icebergs of Adult Learning: Findings of the First Canadian Survey of Informal Learning Practices. NALL Working Paper #10-2000, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.


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