Monday, February 19, 2007

Free roam learning - versus informal learning

Informal learning has been heavily discussed this week online. All or nothing could see informal learning integrated in training together with formal education. Stephen Downes and Tom Haskins
do not agree with this but view informal learning as non-formal, as not linked to any marketable entity, in which control is inposed by others than the learner. I like Tom's analogy of free range chickens with learning. It seems to me that Tom's and Stephen's sense of informality entails for learners to roam freely from node to node in online networks, and I would call it free roam learning as free range still holds some connotations of restrictio and control. It would be good to keep free-roam and informal seperate as there is still a high proportion of the population that does not have access to the Internet, thus also does not have access to freely roam from node to node. In Wales that is about 51% of the population. These are in general older people and people from unskilled and semi-skilled backgrounds. Should we leave all these people out of the equasion as they do not have access to the technology? I don't think so. Informal learning, and with this I mean 'first step learning' relevant to the needs, aspirations, and interests of learners, is offered as a stepup to other forms of learning all over the UK. It is informal as it is very much negotiated with the learners and there are no formal assessments involved in the process. It is not free roam learning as lack of confidence and efficacy means that a number of steps need to be taken before these learners can move from informal to free roam learning. It is important when discussing connected knowledge that we keep in mind that the most vulnerable people in society are excluded from the discussion.

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