Jay Cross – Informal Learning workshop in Sydney

July 11, 2008 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I attended a workshop on Informal Learning delivered by Jay Cross (check out his blog http://internettime.com/) in Sydney in June – It was fantastic to talk about his ideas on informal learning and hear what others are doing out there too.


Here are some of the key ideas and conversations that Jay started:


  • All learning is the same  – kids, adults, novices, experts etc all learn in the same way
  • Learning is looking at the world and looking for patterns to control the environment
  • We learn more from our mistakes – BUT reflection is key!
  • The greatest technology for learning is human conversation – it’s the heart of learning.
  • The prime activity of web 2.0 and informal learning is collaboration
  • The long tail in L&D: we need to let learners go out and learn things for themselves because we won’t always have a course for everything.
  • Be the catalyst, start things off then leave it. Let people connect the dots, don’t do it for them – this is the secret of informal learning.
  • Individuals don’t make things happen – it’s groups that make change happen. Relationships are crucial. The only way to do things better is to link arms and collaborate – do things together.






  • endless streams of memos
  • empowering people to create content
  • participation through comments so may be limiting – the major message is coming from one source.
  • More control than a wiki
  • You can know it’s a blog but others don’t need to know it’s a blog – terminology might scare some away.
  • Start with “plogs” – project blogs
  • You can keep free, internet based blogs private – maybe start with one of these?




  • participation is the key
  • it’s a book with blank pages that we can all change
  • you need to water these things, to make the plant grow.


 How do you deal with the “what if’s..” – use the analogy of a restaurant: restaurants serve steaks – people need sharp knives to cut these steaks but do you see cages in restaurants so people don’t attack each other with the sharp knives? The same applies for blogs/wikis – in a work environment staff know how to behave – at the end of the day they are still at work and need to comply with existing policies etc.


One of the main things that stayed with me after the day was it’s not about the technology – it’s about the people and making the connections and flow of  conversations easier. Learning is about how you can do a better job – it doesn’t matter how you get there.

And the most important thing: get out of the way and let people do their thing and they’ll teach each other. We can’t control everything..informal learning is about letting go of that control..something that may be very hard to do in some L&D departments!






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