In this paper, the authors describe very well the issues and the opportunities of management of informal learning at workplace based on technology. Contents of this paper are derived by the experience of TRAILER project.
Authors identify informal learning as the most prominent way of learning at workplace (more than 70% of the total learning), and this is why scientific community and policy makers are trying to explore new approaches and technologies to formalize it.
However, "tracking" informal learning with technology raises some issues:
- Systems can be rejected by users.
- Difficulty in promoting the adoption of the approach in day-to-day professional activities.
- The use of a catalogue of competences for informal learning classification can be seen as a major barrier.
These issues can be partially mitigated by using a more pragmatic approach, in particular by integrating systems with the applications which already formed part of the users working environment.
The authors discuss about the definitions of formal, non-formal and informal learning, suggesting that the distinction among them is more related to the presence or absence of a management process.
The introduction of this management process allows to reach two conditions:
- The validation of informal learning ensures that individuals are not only assessed on their formal qualifications, but also given credit for the whole range of learning which they have achieved in their lives.
- Whatever the intentions of their designers may be, competence based systems and systems for the validation of informal learning both inevitably extend the reach of educational management into areas to which it did not previously have access.
Hwever, according to authors and TRAILER project experience, "a high priority in supporting informal learning should be the avoidance of additional management processes".
In this scenario, Data and Learning Analytics could represent a solution, considering that "if it were possible to simply monitor people’s activities and deduce their capabilities from this, then the need to validate items of informal learning might disappear. There are increasing signs that this may be possible".
In the second part, authors describe the structure and functioning of a prototype of a Learning Analytics-based system for informal learning tracking.