Informal Learning Flow

by Jay Cross on January 16, 2009


Professional learning is increasingly driven by demand, not supply. You decide what you need or want to learn and you go get it when you feel like it. Since you chose your topic rather than being told, you’re more likely to retain information you find.

To keep from drowning in the gusher of discoveries, news, and insight on the net, astute foragers use services to filter the noise and present headlines worthy of further investigation. For generalized answers to “What’s happening?”, they visit sites like Original Signal, Digg, PopURLs, or Buzzfeed, where poplar items rise to the top.

Keeping one’s finger on the pulse professionally is a tougher nut to crack. In the realm of informal learning, I learn from David Weinberger, George Siemens, Nancy White, Ross Dawson, Mark Oehlert, Marcia Conner, and dozens of others. I follow people on blogs, Twitter and Friendfeed. I rapidly tire of any single format, so I have been using a variety of tools to keep up with my favorite feeds: a river of news or Google reader or Pageflakes. (FYI, these links and more adorn the top of my personal search & re-search page.) When someone asked where to get up to speed on informal learning, I haven’t had an ideal place to send them. Until today.


For the past couple of days, I’ve been consuming knowledge from a site that better fits how I learn. Called Informal Learning Flow, the site pulls together the feeds of the people I read and topics that I care about. You’ve got to see this in action to understand its power. Go to the site and click on a concept, say, informal learning. Then click on another concept, say, formal learning. You’ll call up entries that use both terms. Experiment a little; there’s more going on under the hood here than meets the eye.

This information engine is the brain child of my pal Tony Karrer whom you know from the eLearning Technology blog, enthusiastic conference presentations, the recent Corporate Learning Trends Event with George Siemens and me, and TechEmpower.

This is still beta.* The site grows richer every day. Help us make it better. Give your suggestions as comments to this post. Need more information? Tony just mentioned some new features that help show a weekly Hot List . Play with the widget-maker at the bottom of the page.

This sort of lightweight, custom-tailored information gatherer has a future. You can experience the same technology at the eLearning Learning content community. Selfishly, I’m happy to help Tech Empower find other homes for this technology, for it can only make the Informal Learning Flow more useful. Overall, I see a big future for technology like this, for it exemplifies the sort of self-service, pull, get-it-when-you-need-it learning style of learning I champion. It makes me life easier.

Oh course, everything in life is beta. We all have, or will have, room for improving how well we fit with the environments we inhabit. (Return)

Jay’s search and re-search page


Work Literacy

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