Formal and Informal Learning and How they Differ

Formal and Informal Learning and How they Differ

Formal and Informal Learning and How they Differ

Modern technology has caused a turn of events in every sector. Specific to the field of education, the development of technology has become larger, limitless and instantaneous. This has allowed students to learn, acquire and build new skills, as well as update their existing skill set to further improve their knowledge about their specific field. In the world of learning, there is always a question of the correct method of learning, and which of these methods is to be a go-to method.

Mainly, there are two kinds of learning. Formal learning happens in a training-based organization, workplace, classrooms, inclusive of mobile devices and over the internet through e-learning platforms. Informal learning is based on practical and lifelong learning. Informal learning is a crucial concept, especially for individuals who must stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and economic changes. While informal learning symbolizes a key to enter the world of employment, it also represents the steps in building a successful career.

In this article, we will help you understand the driving differences between Formal and Informal Learning.

The Real Difference:



If defined,

Formal learning occurs in environments that are structured and built for training and education. It is explicitly designed as education in terms of time, objectives and resources, and is intentional in the terms of the learner's perspective. Formal learning, as you would've figured, leads to earning degrees and certificates for the skills you acquire. It follows a structured model that presents a rigid curriculum, corresponding to laws and norms, and is a presentation method of education.

On the other hand:

Informal learning goes beyond any limitations, and can be applied outside of traditional formal learning environments, such as universities, schools and colleges. It finds its uses in our daily lives or learning projects undertaken by us to teach ourselves. It is based on the daily life experiences of peer groups, family, media or any other influence in the learner's surrounding. This learning platform encompasses a range of activities such as researching, learning, or projects.

The most explicit distinction between both of these learning approaches boils down to the fact of it being unexpected or intentional learning. The former occurs when a learner learns something during everyday life activities, which is something they never expected. Intentional learning is the approach where learners aim to learn a particular thing and goes about successfully achieving that objective.

Their Basic Differences:

Here are some basic differences between formal and informal learning, which are discussed separately below:



  • Organized learning environment. Formal learning defines the structure and design of the course outline, with the approach formulated and predefined that comes with a deadline. Informal learning, on the other hand, doesn't define a course outline, is disorganized and not designed. It occurs anywhere, anytime and in different contexts and situations.

  • Eager and self-motivated learners. Formal learning environments are usually motivated and eager to learn in the initial stages, with that gradually decreasing as the number of activities decrease, thereby reducing engagement. Informal learning promotes motivation, attentiveness and experiences, with students grabbing concepts and gaining an understanding of the subject.

  • Spontaneous Learning. Informal learning is spontaneous, drives motivation, and is impulsive. From a learner's viewpoint, informal learning can be the best way to gain knowledge and skill build at the same time. From an instructor's standpoint, the instruction is conscious about the need to share the skill or knowledge with the learner in a particular context. Formal learning is planned, direct, non contextual and formulated. Both the learner and instructor take up the learning intentionally, and this process occurs over a period of time.

  • Lifelong learning process. Formal learning doesn't offer a lifelong process, but offers results in a predefined time frame. Its program is designed for a particular duration and with the set, guidelines to be followed to achieve the targeted objective. Informal learning, as mentioned above is a spontaneous and lifelong activity, and keeps individuals interested and mentally active in the world around.

  • Quantifiable Learning. Formal learning has always been quantifiable, as it is measured and formulated. It is a learning or transfer of knowledge in a proper university or classroom setup, offered by skilled instructors and up to a certain degree. The informal learning can't be quantified, as it cannot be measured and designed to achieve a particular set of skills in a set of skills in a set time frame.

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