This paper focuses on tools and strategies to integrate the strengths of formal and informal learning in the corporate context via the use of work-based activities within courses. The following proposition is argued: An effective course in the corporate context becomes a blend of formal and informal learning, a guided opportunity to learn from and share experiences gained through work-based activities, and to contribute one’s own experiences as learning resources for others, for use in both formal and informal learning settings. Examples from practice in a multinational corporate learning context where a number of courses have been redesigned to allow integration of formal and informal learning are given. Key issues and challenges arising from this experience are discussed.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Formal Learning: A wide range of definitions, but no commonly agreed one, exists in the literature. For the purposes of this chapter we define formal learning as learning structured into a course, workshop or other form of learning event, delivered in classroom or at a distance, supported by an instructor/facilitator or self-paced through instructional materials.
Work-based activities: Learning activities that are anchored in everyday practice and that are focused on developing the learners’ ability to solve the problems of their everyday professional job roles. In contrast to well-defined, textbook problems that only resemble the real-world problems, work-based problems are complex and ill-defined and need to be solved in social settings, involving others for team working, and with coaching and scaffolding by an expert.
Knowledge Worker: A term first used by Peter Drucker, signifying an employee who primarily works with knowledge and information.
Work-based learning: Various models and forms of work-based learning exist both in training and education. For the purpose of this chapter, work-based learning is defined as courses oriented around work-based activities, which may or may not include a classroom components but will include different types of learning activities with a focus on work-based problems; different types of learning resources with a focus on re-use of knowledge and experience from within the company; different times and places for learning activities with a focus on activities being carried out in the workplace; and different ways that people work and network together with a focus on collaboration in the process of doing work-based activities. Work-based learning is guided by a facilitator with a focus on teachable moments in the course structure as well as individual coaching in the workplace, involving regular assessment with the focus on workplace relevance, and integrating a Web-based environment.
Informal Learning: A term for which a wide range of definitions apply, but no commonly agreed one exists in the literature. Here, informal learning is defined as learning that takes place in the work context and arises both from participation – doing the work - and from social interactions with peers and experts in the workplace.