- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Pfeiffer; 1 edition (November 10, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0787981699
- ISBN-13: 978-0787981693
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance 1st Edition
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"I was an unlikely candidate to buy into Jay Cross's theory that formal learning is largely ineffective. But my curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself totally engrossed in his out-of-the-ordinary thinking on learning." (T+D Magazine, February 2007)
"The key to the twenty-first century will be in learning how to leverage informal learning for us all. Jay provides us with an evocative road map to how we can do this."
—John Seely Brown, coauthor, Social Life of Information, and former chief scientist, Xerox Corp.
"Informal learning is the perfect theme for exploring the next wave of our field. Jay Cross continues to push our thinking on the transformational forces of knowledge, learning, and performance. A must read!"
—Elliott Masie, founder, The MASIE Center's Learning CONSORTIUM
"In an outsourced, automated age, informal learning has become the key to high performance and personal fulfillment. And now Jay Cross has written the very best primer on this woefully neglected topic. This is a book for both sides of your brain!"
—Daniel H. Pink, author, A Whole New Mind
"Jay Cross provides an important challenge for us all—to move our focus from the classroom to the workplace, and in doing so, reframe what we do in ways that much more closely reflect how people actually learn and perform on the job. Informal Learning has profound implications for how we—from trainers to chief learning officers and from frontline business managers to executives—must rethink our ideas and practices, not in some distant future, but right now."
—Marc J. Rosenberg, management consultant, and author, Beyond E-Learning
"This book shows how informal learning experiences connect us with information, help us share ideas, and obtain new perspectives, and even help us create new knowledge together."
—Ellen Wagner, director, Worldwide eLearning, Adobe Systems
"The one sentence from this book that hit me like a train: 'Most corporations invest their training budget where it will have the least impact.' Wow. In an era of demanding ROI, shrinking budgets, and the insistence to do more with less, think of the impact that informal learning could have if it could truly focus learning and efforts for maximum impact."
—Mark Oehlert, learning strategy architect, Booz Allen Hamilton
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Top Customer Reviews
I know that informal learning is effective in the proper context. I ride motorcycles and learn a great deal around the motorcycle groups and sites. But if I needed a structural engineer then I want to see some paper showing experience backed up be a degree where they had to take formal classes and tests.
One point he makes I have found to be accurate in that much training is wasted. Same with advertising. Trouble is you don't know which is the waste until you do it.
It can be hard to face up to, but the medieval basis of our education is suddenly and starkly out of touch with the needs of a post-network society. After reading this book, it's hard not to face up to that fact, because we now have a compelling, if nascent, alternative. The web enables a wholly different, but infinitely more effective approach to learning - through self-direction, and peer collaboration, motivated by individual choice, for example. As Jay points out, given the complexity and pace of change of 21st century life, we simply must change. (I have an 8 year -old daughter in school and it pains me to see what she's going through when it will all become obsolete in just a few years.) He outlines a kind of proto-pedagogical alternative, taking 'natural' learning as its starting point. He blends online/offline ideas with ideas from design, motivational psychology, etc, but is careful not to lose sight of learning objectives.
As an educator/trainer of over 20 years myself, I believe the book succeeds. Jay isn't a tremendous stylist, nor are his ideas wildly original, but he does exactly what is needed. He makes the case for alternative approaches to learning in a clear and simple way with plenty of diagrams, and examples. Although his focus is on corporate training, rather than traditional education, the implications reverberate. He brings years of training experience, together with an optimistic outlook to practice what he preaches. Having read his blog o ver the course of severalk months it has left it's makr on my own
The book is almost a metaphor for the kinds of challenge we face: hard to pin down, constantly changing, yet sometimes so obvious that we fail to see the significance. Jay doesn't have all the answers because that is the kind of (medieval) certainty he cautions against. He has brought an important discussion into the light of day. I don't know anyone who wouldn't benefit from this book.
The title of this review relates Cross's notion to one of my own observations about ubiquitous learning - namely, the "educational economy". Every one of these informal learning events is like a "transaction" in which some knowledge is shared, and in return the understanding or even reputation of the sharer is increased. The "real" educational economy, is very difficult to formalize, so what Cross would call "informal learning" is (to me at least) the portion of the educational economy that we have had trouble accrediting or otherwise keeping tabs on socially. Formal learning describes those artificial mechanisms, such as courses, (which Cross loudly proclaims are dead), that are easy to keep tabs on and can yield some educational benefit.
Informal Learning is, at its heart, a book rich with discussion of how we learn best, and what situations contribute to organic, self-driven learning - particularly in the workplace, but the ideas presented are really universal. Jay appropriately spends time discussing how the Internet has become the ultimate self-education tool, pointing out that "...my son and his peers [learn] everything from homework assignments to network administration on the Web. [That's] also where he learned a lot more than his dad ever did about meteorology, PERL, San Francisco politics, environmental action groups, obscure singers, and much more..." (166)
I'd like to sum up here just by sharing a quote from the book that I included on SR's website: "Many learners today are not self-directed; they are waiting for directions. It's time to tell them that the rules have changed. It's in their self-interest to become proactive learning opportunists." (175)