An informal reality check

I’m a little sceptical about “informal learning” as it’s being framed today.

The basic idea is sound: we learn all the time, from surprising things in our environment, from self-reflection, and from trial-and-error. The tools that get talked about so much (blogs, RSS feeds, etc.) have had most of the bugs shaken out. (“Web 2.0” technologies are still being worked out and show a lot of promise.)

So, what’s not to like? All the blogs, with all the bells and whistles, doesn’t replace a good knowledgable conversation. (When I was teaching week-long professional classes, every student would have a “$2000 question” — the one thing that would make the whole week worth the expense.) You can have a slow conversation with some bloggers via comments, but finding what you need to know is rather hit-or-miss.

This leaves me with the fundamental question of how to encourage mutually-beneficial exchanges in informal learning at a distance.

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