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Issue Linkage between formal and informal learning
Outline [HSh:] An issue we discussed many times is the linkage between formal and informal learning. Yet in many of the concepts I hear it is very institutionally tied to notions like the electronic classroom. 
"More companies are demanding a better match between formal and informal situated learning arrangements in supplier networks, with customers or clients or in value chains. At the same time, the nature of skills demand is changing in firms with closely integrated business strategies. Business and services are in a process of continuous renewal. Learning is not only a process of the acquisition of codified knowledge, but also a process of creating, recreating and discovering new knowledge for the as yet unknown and unimagined business of tomorrow. The institutional classroom, whether electronic or not, cannot cope with that new learning and knowledge scenario. Future scenarios point towards situated learning communities" (Shapiro 2001).
Debate [DG:] The Australian expert Stephen Billet has argued that the distinction between formal and informal learning is not helpful. Work is formally organised so that the learning that occurs through work is actually formally organised. We just label it, perhaps unhelpfully, 'informal learning'.
[BNy:] There is a space between formal and informal settings: a lot of learning is taking place in between there, in organisations or in class rooms. This is happening due to some other factors which are not necessarily seen initially as learning factors, and it's a question of trying to capitalise on them.
[HSh:] When people go out to talk to firms they can hear 'we learn a lot in our work'. And you then have to go more in depth with what this actually means. In a lot of contexts it means 'I learn to use this particular technology or machinery or routine'. But there is not, within that organisation, any time or space for discussing or reflecting upon this, in the sense of transferable skills, for example by asking 'could it be done in some other way?', 'is it appropriate or not?', 'in which context?'. So we need to look closer what this informal learning is about, because it has such a variety of applications when firms talk about it.
[HC:] In our knowledge resource centre network, training organisations and trainers are asking for programmes which they can share. This modifies our concept of service: formally we had a lot of products in support of learning and knowledge, nowadays we try to construct with our clients the solutions for their programmes. First we identify their problems and needs, then we design with them a programme for supporting an individual informal process of developing competences; and after that we try to establish a contact for monitoring this individual process. So we need to change from a product oriented solution to a service oriented solution, and we are learning ourselves how to achieve this.
Reference  
Event CEDRA: Brussels Nov 01
Descriptors D-WBL  D-CVT  D-CDO  EP09      V14
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO