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What motivates informal learning?

I’m playing around with ideas about what motivates informal learning and wanting to move beyond the idea that it is somehow innate and something human beings do all the time.  I’m outlining some of my thoughts below, but would really appreciate comments and other ideas on this.

  • People engage in informal learning because we have an inbuilt drive to learn.  This probably applies to babies and children, but is not so obvious once we have acquired basic life skills – or is it?
  • People engage in informal learning out of interest in something.  This could be things like researching a holiday destination, route planning, language learning – other examples?
  • People engage in informal learning do develop a hobby or skill.  This may be similar to becoming part of a community of practice – start by learning the basics, look to improve by practising/reading/etc, extend understanding by experimenting, become expert and help others (expertise might be in one part of hobby – not overall).  Had lace making in mind here and the process I went through becoming competent but there may well be hobbies it doesn’t fit.
  • People engage in informal learning by accident. The sort of serendipitous learning that comes from watching TV, listening to the radio, reading newspapers, browsing the web, etc. Not setting out to learn or expecting to learn but picking up interesting facts on the way.
  • People engage in informal learning intentionally – perhaps to enable social relationships or to pursue an existing interest (is this any different from hobby/skill?). Examples might be learning to play a game, learning how to build/script/use gestures in SL, etc.
  • People engage in informal learning out of necessity. This might be around house and family. Undertaking household chores, maintaining and repairing property, looking after baby, etc.
  • People engage in informal learning to look after their health. Reading or using web to explore diet or to understand a medical condition.  Taking up exercise and learning how to do it probably to avoid injury.
  • People engage in informal learning because they are bored.

Why else do people engage in informal learning?  Other examples/idea?

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5 Comments

  1. kat says:

    People engage in informal learning because they have been brought up to to so. It is nurtured. Families who place a high priority on interests and hobbies produce children who know how to engage in informal learning.

    I have noticed that a high percentage of people who suffer from alcohol and drug abuse have no idea how to pursue hobbies and that they don’t have any.

  2. Pat says:

    People engage in informal learning because it is less stressful. More focused on the process getting to the end product rather than the end product done to perfection. There isn’t a fear of making mistakes during informal learning.

  3. kat says:

    Another – People engage in informal learning because courses cost too much or are becoming unavailable!

  4. Bilton115 says:

    People join clubs in order to meet people/socialise and informal learning is part of the package. For example, birdwatching, dancing, bridge. There would need to be an interest in the subject but often the social side is the prime interest. U3A is probably a good example of this although the learning is a bit more formal than a club. Years ago I used to work in adult education in London and the pensioners could do as many classes as they wanted for £1 for the year. Some did 3 classes a day. The learning aspect was just an extra to most of the students. This opportunity slowly disappeared and people have to look elsewhere now.

  5. srdawes says:

    People engage in informal learning because they have an interest in a subject but want to pursue only some aspects of it rather than have to study an entire course and complete assignments to gain credits towards a qualification they don’t really need.

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