How to Measure Informal Learning
Most learning leaders believe that roughly 20% of job related skills learning takes place through formal or traditional training. The other 80% of organizational learning occurs informally or on-the-job. Evaluating the effectiveness of informal learning is a challenge and I am always looking for thought leadership and best practices around evaluating and measuring all forms of learning, including informal learning initiatives.
Last night I attended the ASTD Greater Atlanta Chapter meeting and participated in an excellent discussion led by Alan Brewer, Global Learning & Development Leader at Equifax, Inc. and Rick Graves, Vice President of KnowledgeAdvisors on the topic of Measuring Informal Learning. Their presentation was full of interesting information and offered helpful insights on how to evaluate informal learning programs which I want to share.
How Equifax Defines Informal Learning
- Equifax defines informal learning in three broad categories:
- On-Demand (self study or learner-led)
- Social (collaborative learning) and
- Embedded (on-the-job)
What are the Critical Measures?
- Both Alan and Rick pointed out that the art & science of measuring informal learning is still in the early stage of development, but the critical measures can include:
- Ease of use
- Value of content
- Level of sharing
- Level of satisfaction
- Level of engagement
- Number of repeat visits
They suggest that you know what measures are important in your organization and make those your priority. While there may not be a cause and effect associated with the measures, there could be a correlation between informal learning and retention, employee engagement or productivity.
When should Informal Learning be Measured?
- While informal learning may suggest a casual approach to measurement, as a rule of thumb it should be well thought out, planned in advance, continuous and embedded in the learning itself. For example, planning brief “pop-up questions” before, during and after the learning versus a post learning multi-question survey is not effective. Measurement should be proportionate to the amount of time the participant is investing in the learning experience. Keep it brief, direct, and ongoing for high impact. A communication strategy around measurement should also be part of the plan, to build the case and visibility for more informal learning.
KnowledgeAdvisors’ learning analytics solution called Metrics that Matter® helps you measure the impact of your informal and social learning programs. For more information check out their podcast.
Are you performing evaluations and measurement on your informal learning programs? If so, please let me know about your experiences and lessons learned, you can never have enough good ideas!