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Dozen Ways To Promote Informal Learning

Dozen Ways To Promote Informal Learning


Learning management systems and learning content management systems are the centerpiece for many learning departments, but most organizations are unaware that these systems have capabilities to support informal learning.
Learning leaders can support informal learning within systems, but all solutions are not rooted in technology. Some tactics require only that managers and employees revisit lessons when and where appropriate and provide adequate learning support or access to developmental resources. What follows are 12 ways to engage a workforce in informal learning tactics.

1. Encourage learners to continue learning after formal courses.

Most enterprise learning systems provide a variety of communication capabilities that not only share administrative information about course materials but also facilitate informal learning after the course finishes.
These communication capabilities may include pre-set notes, which can prompt workers to apply skills taught in training at times when instructors anticipate workers might need reminders. Or, the system may enable distribution of resource materials, such as supplementary readings, references, job aids and similar materials that workers could consult in a performance support context. Ongoing discussions among participants in which they can share challenges and strategies to transfer learning to the job are another possibility.

2. Provide a space for communities.

Because they let learning professionals distribute information and promote conversation among participants in a course, most enterprise learning systems allow users to set up groups with the same capabilities. Within these groups, learning professionals can promote conversations among:
a) Occupational communities that find online communities helpful when they do not have an opportunity to work together in-person. These communities could include decentralized communication professionals or occupational safety teams in organizations with several work locations. For instance, IBM has had communities like these for many years.
b) Demographic communities that find that online communities let them connect with people who share similar characteristics, such as gender, race or sexual orientation, but who might be uncomfortable meeting in public. For example, many large organizations have women's, African-American, Latino and LGBT networks.
c) Interest-based communities that find online communities provide them with an opportunity to discuss particular subject areas, such as agile programming or management.

3. Provide self-assessments to assess workers' interests and skills; apply that self-awareness.

The self-assessments can be written internally or acquired through third-party sources. For example, the website for prospective students of the Masters of Technical Communication program at Southern Polytechnic State University near Atlanta lets prospects assess whether a master's degree even meets their needs.

4. Maintain skills profiles for key job categories.

Enterprise learning systems provide a number of capabilities for skills management. The first of these are tools to maintain profiles for the skills or competencies needed in particular jobs. These skill profiles play a key role in performance and career management.
One key challenge with skills profiles is developing them. Someone in the organization needs to identify the competencies needed in each major job family, as well as distinguish among junior, intermediate and advanced skills. That's easier said than done since doing so involves many people, starting with workers who hold those jobs and their managers.
Devising the list also may seem daunting because organizations have two strategies: go for a limited number of broad competencies, which may be too general to be useful, or collect a larger number of specific competencies, which can feel restrictive and likely should contain competencies unique to a position rather than general ones for all positions. Further, a system cannot resolve these philosophical issues or develop the lists.
Because their primary service is skills, most large professional services organizations invest heavily in skills management, as do many larger, more established government agencies and high-technology companies. However, the benefits associated with skills profiles can effect any organization looking to optimize hiring, facilitate retention and create targeted developmental interventions to build the workforce.

5. Assess skills workers possess.

In addition to developing skills profiles for particular jobs, some enterprise learning systems let managers assess workers' skills against profiles. Managers and workers can use this analysis to determine individual training and development needs.
Essentially, while working with a manager, learning leader or other third party, workers review a list of competencies needed in their jobs and, for each, indicate their skill level. The system matches the skills and employees' levels with a generalized profile of workers in that job and generates a list of skills gaps where the worker's skill level falls below that of a competent person in the position. At that point, a manager can step in to direct any development needed, or if the organization has self-paced development options available, employees could take advantage of existing resources to improve their skills and close gaps.
Skills assessment processes pose challenges. One, the longer the list of skills, the more burdensome an assessment can be. Imagine assessing dozens of skills. Two, a values-based assessment - "satisfactory, good and excellent" - can lead to more poor assessments than a performance-based assessment - "can perform independently," "can perform with moderate assistance," "can only perform with substantial assistance."

6. Track skills development.

If organizations can link competencies developed through training to the competencies in one or more skills profiles, the system can automatically update workers' skills profiles to reflect the new skills acquired when learners complete programs. This can be an asset when leaders are considering what candidates are available for internal promotions, development options like projects or succession planning.
Most systems also let people manually update skills profiles to reflect competencies developed through informal learning. Ideally, a system should require that workers actually demonstrate they can perform a skill to a manager before updating the profile. Otherwise, workers could receive recognition for skills they might not really have.

7. Match skills available with those needed.

As part of hiring, talent management systems which link learning to other talent processes such as selection can generate a list of workers in an organization who already possess skills a hiring manager wants.
Doing so lets organizations manage their inventory of skills as well as provide tangible recognition to workers who have developed in-demand skills, including those developed informally. For example, skills tracking capabilities in LinkedIn help track skills, and fee-based services let recruiters use them to identify candidates.

8. Assist with career planning.

Provide self-assessments to help workers determine what types of work suit them. Also provide career road maps to identify skills needed in a particular career. Let workers assess their current qualifications, and link those skills to developmental opportunities to fill gaps, including informational interviews, training, developmental assignments and professional organizations. This connection to talent strategy boosts learning strategy effectiveness and can help boost retention. Employees not only see opportunities for advancement, but they also see learning as a tool to facilitate career growth.

9. Tailor information to each workers' needs.

Provide workers with the information they are likely to need based on their particular work contexts. Learning and talent systems maintain profiles for each worker and match worker characteristics with labels on content that authors included when they stored the content.
Emerging systems hope to offer additional levels of tailoring, much like and e-commerce systems that pinpoint content based on previous use.

10. Record informal learning activities.

Because most informal learning happens outside of an internal development event or some similarly measurable activity, it often requires some manual effort to track it. Managers and workers might add participation in conferences, completion of university and other third-party courses, books read, leadership roles in nonprofit organizations and similar activities. Doing so increases the likelihood that others will recognize the worker for skills acquired informally.

11. Track progress toward a particular goal.

Just as enterprise learning systems can track informal learning activities, they also can track activities focused on a larger goal.
For example, a company that makes custom hearing devices can certify new workers who custom fit the devices through a combination of classes and supervised field work. The system automatically records course completions. Later, managers manually record completion of each supervised field activity in the system. When workers complete all of the required activities, they receive certification.

12. Track informal learners, which informal learning resources they use and which ones they don't.

The analytics and reporting capabilities of most enterprise systems report the number of times that workers visited particular resources used in informal learning and the number of unique users who did so. For instance, if a particular user visits the same resource four times, that would count as one user but four visits. Therefore, distinguishing among visits and visitors can help leaders assess the general usefulness of a particular page.
Some systems also let designers request satisfaction data from users on each page. For example, some systems let learning professionals include a two-question survey asking users whether the information on the page answered their question and include a space to explain why or why not.
For learning leaders looking to increase the availability of and participation in informal learning in an organization, these capabilities can help. In many cases, the company is already paying for them. Find out what existing systems offer, then choose one on which to pilot informal learning efforts. When the organization embraces it, add another.
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15 Habits that contributes in individual's success

Attitude matters a lot at workplace. Various studies have proved that one most important ingredient that may turn a failure into success is attitude but at the same time, the study has also explained how our attitude is affected with individual's habits. In a nutshell we can never ever neglect our habits as they are directly responsible for our attitude. Following are few habits that tops the list, read the, enjoy them and try to implement:-

1. Measure Success in Happiness Rather than Wealth

The modern generation of employees are increasingly motivated by factors other than wealth, with job satisfaction, benefits and empowerment all key considerations. This also represents a shift in the way that people measure their success, as defining it in pounds and pence or dollars and cents only leads you to consistently chase a higher amount with ever achieving true satisfaction. This can be counter-productive, so be sure to create a clearly defined vision of success and understand precisely what it means to you.

2. Challenge yourself and Do Hard Things

You cannot succeed in life without first achieving personal growth, which demands a willingness to accept and overcome difficult challenges. It is only though overcoming obstacles that we are able to learn and develop critical life skills, and it is these attributes that will equip us to obtain success. By challenging yourself and confronting difficult tasks, you can also change your mind-set with regards to the possibilities that life holds.

3. Listen to Constructive Criticism and the Opinion of Others

While positive feedback can improve your morale and motivate you to achieve success, it is your ability to respond to constructive criticism that will ultimately empower you to reach your goals. After all, this type of feedback highlights areas in which you need to improve, rather than simply reaffirming your strengths as an individual. Your weaknesses can then be targeted through training and development, which in turn will empower you as a stronger and more rounded individual.

4. Learn from Failure

While failure is considered to be a teacher of valuable life lessons, drawing from painful and disappointing experiences is far easier said than done. In fact, it requires an ability to decipher the exact lessons that we can learn from each individual failure, so that we can apply these in the quest for future success. By confronting the issue head on and identifying exactly where things went wrong, you can take actionable steps towards ensuring that the same mistakes are not made again.

5. Develop an Early and Consistent Wake-up Routine

While recent studies have suggested that enjoying eight hours sleep each day may actually be counter-productive to your levels of mental agility, it is still important that you develop a consistent cycle of sleep. This enables you to become an early riser who wakes up at exactly the same time each day, which makes it far easier for you to optimize your time and develop a productive schedule. So while the rest of the world is still snoozing in bed, you can be taking decisive action towards empowering your body and mind for the day ahead.

6. Choose a Positive Attitude

While there are some who consider the fear of failure to be a key motivator, it is more likely to create inhibitions that prevent you from achieving success. Instead, it is far better to be proactive and adopt a positive attitude in everything that you do. Given the variables that can influence your chances of achieving success, it is crucial that you take control of your own outlook and use positivity as a way of identifying opportunities.

7. Make a Commitment to Achieve Every Single Day

Although waking up one morning with a proactive and positive outlook is to be encouraged, it means little if you are unable to commit to this every single day. Recommitting to your routine and the pursuit of your goals is crucial to achieving success; otherwise, the pressures of everyday life can divert your focus. While this requires tremendous drive and strength of character, it will ultimately empower you to be successful over a prolonged period of time.

8. Work harder than your Competition and Those Around you

While you can only control your own efforts in the pursuit of your goals, it is important to remember that each individual’s success is also determined by those around them. When competing with others for a specific goal or prize, for example, you must do everything within your power and leave no stone un-turned if you attain success. At the heart of this is your level of dedication to the cause, as making a commitment to work harder than those around will ultimately afford you a critical edge.

9. Make Complacency your enemy

One of the biggest obstacles to long-term success is complacency, which can easily set-in after positive feedback or the attainment of short-term goals. You must strive to use these achievements as a spring-board, however, and rededicate yourself to the cause with renewed vigor. Take the example of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who despite emerging as one of the best players in the world continues to commit himself to a punishing daily fitness regime that encourages self-improvement.

10. Fear No Single Individual

Pursuing success in your chosen profession is extremely difficult, primarily because you will undoubtedly come across intimidating and purposeful individuals who are striving to achieve similar goals. You cannot allow these individuals to undermine or overpower you, however, as this will put you at a disadvantage and force you to feel inferior to the competition. While you must always respect competing individuals around you, it is important that you remain fearless and back your talent to ultimately succeed.

11. Commit Your Goals to Paper

Believe it or not, the power of the to-do list lies in subtle psychology. Often applied to short-term goals or daily tasks that require completion, this type of list provides an actionable schedule for individuals which enables them to mark their progress as they proceed. This can provide reassurance that you are achieving your goals and being productive within a given time frame, and committing your long-term goals to paper may help you to remain focused and motivated during more difficult times.

12. Surround yourself with Positive and Successful Individuals

Having a diverse and mixed group of friends is all well and good, but it is imperative that individuals within your social circles share a similar outlook to work and professional success. If you have friends who have a tendency to draw focus and distract you from your work, for example, you may ultimately need to make a choice between pursuing success and settling for your existing lifestyle. If the idea of eliminating people from your life makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself if a true friend would risk your long-term happiness by actively preventing you from achieving your goals.

13. Maintain a Fit and Healthy Body

According to the Athletes Way philosophy, there are a number of daily lifestyle choices that can help to create the perfect balance between physical fitness and mental agility. There are numerous studies that have proven a link between the two, and it is increasingly clear that regular exercise is a key driver of enhanced mental performance. So if you wish to develop the necessary stamina to achieve personal and professional success, a physically fit body is pivotal.

14. Invest Only in the Pursuit of your Goals

While wealth may not be the most suitable measure of success, it can certainly be used to fund personal and professional development. With this in mind, it is important to spend money on the development of your career or business, rather than simply investing in material possessions that do little more than create a superficial image. Making these spending decisions is a key part of chasing success, as it forces you to consider your goals and how much you value their accomplishment.

15. Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices

On a similar note, you may well be forced to make sacrifices in your quest for success, as any goals that are worth achieving are unlikely to be easily obtainable. The so-called ‘law of sacrifice’ states simply that you cannot obtain something that you want without being willing to give something up in return, so you must therefore be prepared to sacrifice a life of excess and material possessions in order to be successful in your career.

The Bottom Line

The definition of success is a diverse concept, and one that remains unique to each individual. Determining what it means to you and developing long-term goals are therefore important steps towards achieving happiness, while you must also be willing to make lifestyle changes and re-evaluate your entire outlook in life.
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