Subscribe: Learning TRENDS

« 80 - Special Report From Buffalo, NY: Training & Employment Conference | Main | 78 - Special Report from Tokyo, Japan - Learning & Development Futures »

79 - Honoring the Informal Learning and Education Process; Tips for Keeping Eyes Alive While Computing

1. Honoring the Informal Learning and Education Process: During a conversation with training colleagues from around the world, a heated discussion erupted about the difference between FORMAL and INFORMAL learning and training. My colleague from Pakistan, Anita Ghulam Ali, from the Sindh Government Education Foundation, made the passionate point that the bulk of learning is INFORMAL, yet the bulk of the world's training efforts in distance and on-line learning are targeted at the FORMAL side of the equation.

INFORMAL education includes the smaller chunks of learning, the key skills and information sets that are smaller than formal courses, learned from peers and experience and rarely have a structure surrounding them. While distance learning efforts that provide degree and certification courses are helping those in search of that dimension of training, there is a much larger and often unmet need for the INFORMAL side. Even the language of administration may need to be changed to attract the informal learner. When we ask them to "register" for a class, even a short one, we are providing the feel of the formal institution. Different terms like "member" rather than student or "tips" rather than "classes" are powerful substitutions.

One tip was to make a list of the characteristics of the people from within your organization that are NOT attending your classes or on-line offerings. In all likelihood, these folks are involved in parallel INFORMAL learning programs. By monitoring the demographics of the non-participants we can better target the entire workforce with new offerings.

2. Tips for Keeping Eyes Alive While Computing: The more we sit in front of our computers, the more at risk we place our vision. Here are some great tips from a recent story in Knight Rider Newspapers:

* Top of screen should be placed at or slightly below eye level. Looking down at the screen at an angle of 10 to 20 degrees prevents straining.
* Sit with your eyes 20 to 26 inches from the screen.
* Arrange lighting to reduce glare. Placing a regular incandescent lamp next to the screen can minimize focusing changes that occur in rooms with florescent lighting.
* Keep reference materials as close to the screen while keyboarding to reduce frequent head and eye movements with dramatic focusing changes.
* Frequent blinking is important. High intensity computer users should consider lubricating eye drops.

3. TechLearn Problem Solution Sessions Unfold: The design of TechLearn '98 (November 15 to 18, 1998) involves a special learning model we call the Problem/Solution Sessions. There will be over 100 of these sessions at this year's conference. The Problem Solution Sessions are highly interactive dialogues and brainstorming sessions, led by a TechLearn participant, aimed a hot topic or question. We intentionally program these as close to the conference as possible, to make sure we are aligned with the breaking news topics in our industry. Each of these sessions lasts 1 hour and will be fully documented with both notes and a video interview with the facilitator, so they can be viewed by all TechLearn participants. Here is the first batch of Sessions. We will announce additional sessions in each of the upcoming Trends newsletters:

* Corporate Culture and the Shift to Non-Traditional Models of Training
* Busting the Myths about Online Learning in your Organization
* It's a Whole New Ball Game: Moving Training to the Internet - What Works, What Doesn't
* Getting the Picture: Using and Improving Videoconferencing in Training
* Borrowing "Training Wheels" for Software Rollout Training
* Facilitating the Shift to Self-Directed Learning
* The Corporate Knowledge Base: From Data Storage to Shared Learning
* A Technology Endeavor: One Third Technology and Two Thirds Getting People to Use It.
* Reinventing the Measures of Training Effectiveness
* Technology Training: How Many Approaches Does it Take?

There are 190 spaces left at TechLearn '98. Orlando has many low priced air fares left and we have room at our Conference Hotels. Go to for details and instant registration.


Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.