Informal Learning: Definition & Benefits

Informal learning is embracing the active participation of students in their own learning and as co-learners with peers.

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Informal learning builds knowledge, skills, and attitudes outside a traditional classroom or formal educational environment.

Informal education happens when individuals set goals and take charge of learning. This means they can learn anything they want at any time they choose.

Informal learning isn't necessarily less valuable than formal education; it's different. While formal and informal education can be helpful, it's essential to understand when one is more appropriate.

Informal Learning

Informal learning builds knowledge, skills, and attitudes outside a traditional classroom or formal educational environment. It encompasses activities that are not typically considered part of formal education but are still crucial to your development as an employee. Examples include:

  • Independent reading - Reading books on topics related to your profession is one way to learn new information that can help you do your job better.
  • Networking - Talking with others in your field about the challenges they've faced, how they solved them, and other helpful tips can be an excellent way to get informal feedback on your work performance and ideas for improvement.
  • Mentoring - Asking mentors for advice about tackling specific problems in the workplace may give valuable insights about how best to proceed with projects at work or school.

How informal learning happens

  • Informal learning happens when individuals set goals and take charge of the learning process. This means they can learn anything they want at any time they choose.
  • Informal learning is not necessarily less valuable than formal education. It can be a great way to improve yourself in various ways, from improving your job skills to learning a new hobby or language to developing a new passion for something that might just become your life's work.

Informal Learning isn't  less valuable than formal education

Informal learning isn't necessarily less valuable than formal education. On the contrary, it's often more practical, cost-effective, flexible, and relevant to your real life.

  • Informal learning can be more valuable than formal education because it's usually cheaper (or accessible). You don't have to pay tuition or fees for informal learning.
  • Informal learning can be more cost-effective because you don't have to pay for attendance at a school or college; you can learn on your schedule without taking time off from work. And you don't need to spend money on books and materials that might not even be relevant after graduation.

Some types of informal learning are more valuable than others

Informal learning can take a lot of different forms. It can be as simple as watching a movie or reading your favorite webcomic, or it can be more complex, like learning how to program by playing with a new language.

Each type of informal learning has value, but some are more valuable than others.

One important kind of informal learning is self-directed learning: when you improve your skills or knowledge simply through practice and experimentation in the real world. Self-directed learners often have an area they want to learn about but need help figuring out where to start.

So they do some research online first to find out what other people are doing in that field (and maybe pick up some good tips from them). Then try out their ideas with actual projects or experiments instead of just reading about them.

This type of informal education is excellent for people who want hands-on experience with something new without needing someone else's guidance; however, these kinds of projects will only sometimes produce results that everyone agrees on!

Another type is peer-to-peer mentoring: when two people work together closely, one person learns from another's experience and expertise while sharing their own knowledge. This kind of relationship allows both parties' ideas and opinions equal weight during discussions; both sides benefit equally from shared knowledge and understanding, whereas "lone wolves" rarely benefit!

We might even argue that this kind represents humankind's most significant achievement thus far.

Evaluating your situation from multiple perspectives

Assessing your situation from multiple perspectives is the best way to determine what you need to learn. Consider your goals, strengths and weaknesses, priorities, resources, schedule, and interests.

Consider the following questions:

  • What are my goals? Do I want to become a better writer or program in Python? Am I looking for a job that requires me to know how to use Microsoft Office products? Or I'm interested in starting my own business. Knowing your goals will help determine the learning experience most relevant (and beneficial) for you.
  • How can I improve at writing? Listening more attentively when someone speaks should be part of everyone's informal learning skillset. But if it isn't yet part of yours, try keeping an audio recorder with you so that whenever someone says something that piques your interest or gets straight-up defensive about something unrelated (like their favorite brand of potato chips). It'll be on tape, so later on, when no one else is around but still wants an answer, they can get one without any idea how much effort went into getting it!
  • What skills do I need now? Do these tools help me achieve my objectives?"

Suitable sources for Informal Learning

You have to be careful about choosing suitable sources for informal learning. There are different types of sources, each with pros and cons.

Some sources are better than others, some more credible than others, some more reliable than others, etc.

Informal Learning

Sources for Informal Education

Informal learning can be done at any time and in any place. Some popular sources for informal education are self-help books, seminars, classes at community colleges, courses on websites like Coursera, YouTube videos, podcasts, and blog posts.

The following are some examples of self-help books that may help you to learn more about your career or work:

  • "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard Bolles
  • "How to Win Friends & Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

It's a great way to improve

Informal learning is a great way to improve yourself in various ways. You can learn anything you want, at any time you choose.

You can learn from your own experiences and the experiences of others, or a combination of both. Informal learning is convenient and flexible—you don't have to worry about missing classes or finding childcare if you decide that now's the perfect time for a new hobby or skill set! It also gives you freedom of choice over how much time and effort you want to put into it.

If there are goals or things about yourself that bother you but aren't addressed by formal education (or even if they are), then informal learning may be just what the doctor ordered! There's no reason why informal learning should stop after high school.

There are so many different ways in which one might wish to improve oneself through self-directed study. Language studies, professional development courses through continuing education programs offered by local community colleges/universities, and private companies specializing in career advancement training (this is especially useful if one wants help finding employment after graduating from school), etcetera.


There are many reasons why informal learning is so important. It can help you learn new skills, keep up with your industry or get ahead in your career. If you're willing to take the time and effort to learn by yourself, there's no limit to what you can do with this approach!

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