Formal Learning – When Informal Learning Isn’t Cutting It

When Informal Learning Isn’t Cutting It?

Remember that all Learning probably started off as 100% Informal.

Not the other way around.

The percentages that that have been addressed probably has more to do with the specific Risk and Reward likelihoods perceived than any attempt to match some set of subdivisions of Learning Formality v Informality, etc.

80-20, 70-20-10.

Or 64 – 36.

I just made that one up – 64-36 – based on nothing other than my love for driving US64 through the countryside of North Carolina.

When that Informal Learning isn’t cutting it – and the Risks and /or Rewards are big enough…

Focus on Performance – And Enable That

Try a more performance-based approach to the Formal that you do choose to target.

Not all targets are worthy, but work with your clients and stakeholders to chose those worthy from a Risk and/or Reward standpoint.

The Big opportunities, not the little ones.

And depending on the specifics of your situation… you may need to cause un-leaning to occur first before the new learning second.

That Informal Learning approach can have its issues – as well as its opportunities. But it’s not the panacea that some might inadvertently posture it to be. Ask anyone who has instructed a group of experienced people in a new method or tool.

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The Ultimate Goal of ISD is Improved Job Performance

As well as improved performance at the Process and Enterprise levels.

I get that. And have, for a long time.

The PACT Processes, my performance-based ISD – Instructional Systems Design sets of concepts, models, methods, tools and techniques – were designed to easily expand into my EPPI – Enterprise Process Performance Improvement concepts, models, methods, tools and techniques.

For a smoother segue when one masters the former to legitimately then take on the latter.

For it is really Performance Improvement we might try to achieve via improved Performance Competence of the performers. If that is at the root of the Problem and/or Opportunity.


Back to PACT.

3 Levels of Design in PACT

  1. Paths – of modular Events, of any blend of mode, media, formality, synchronicity, etc.
  2. Events – groups of modular Lessons that themselves are groups of modular Instructional Activities. Any media and mode. Any level of Formality/Informality.
  3. Instructional Activities – of groups of INFOs, DEMOs or APPOs – as in Information, Demonstration and Application. Using any media and mode. Any level of Formality/Informality.


Note that you can start at any level, and expand to the others, or not, as the situation requires. You don’t have to work top down – although that would be most efficient.

PACT enables better targeting. Not every job titles deserves the rigor of a formal CAD effort to produce a performance PD Path. Sometimes they are only worthy of a generic Path, where content created for other priority audiences is ReUsed on their Path. Not created for them, but shared with them.

2 Major KInds of Paths. For High Priority Target Audiences – and those Paths for Other Target Audiences.

You’ll have to figure out how to discuss this distinction in your Enterprise. It could be tricky. You can serve everyone, but as two classes – those who get the most formal, structured, engineered approach to their push learning and performance competence development because it is high risk and/or reward – and those who get mostly generic, and much more pull than push as their performance competence poses less risk and/or reward.

You needs some sort of overall Logic for what you are doing. I have my PACT Logic. And of course there are other layers and aspects to this.

PACT Data Logic

To establish a true Curriculum Architecture Design capability – you will need to install, communicate and train others on many items.

You will need an “architecture” standing behind it that defines the rules of content architecture, or content engineering, or content configuration, or whatever you like or need to call it.

PUSH-PULL Content - By Design

Rules such as: what constitutes ObBoarding and OnGoing learning?

What are are numbering and titling conventions?

What are the categories of Paths, Events, Lessons, Instructional Activities, text and graphics?

Where do we keep these for ReUse/ Sharing?

How do we control Content Changes (inevitable, no?) to minimize the cycle time and cost for this type of predictable maintenance?

Etc. Etc. And Etc.

And How do we really get to ReUse? And what does that mean? Nothing but Generic?


And what benefits can there be from tacking this… complexity?

Why Bother?


There are some very good reasons to think about this further.

Beginning With The End In Mind

There are 3 levels of Analysis/ Design/ Development Outputs in PACT.

3 Levels of Design w titles

Curriculum Architecture Design produces Paths (or Menus) of Learning Experiences that has been engineered or architected to accelerate the attainment of Performance Competence (versus generic Competencies). These Performance Development Paths are ideally a blend of modular events for formal learning with modes that enable deeper formal and informal learning.


The Performance Development Path includes both OnBoarding and OnGoing learning needs, until Discovery Learning is more appropriate, and we should all know that is possible after an individual becomes very knowledgeable and skillful, in separating wheat from chaff, as they say.

A PD Path guides – by design – Learning the awareness, knowledge and skills –  in a rigid and/or flexible sequence – as rigid as appropriately required and as flexible feasible.

i’ve been doing these since 1982… wrote about it in TRAINING Magazine in 1984. I’ve recently completed my 75th CAD project, producing over 100 Performance Development Paths, often called T&D Paths or Learning Paths but also Development Roadmaps, Training Blueprints, and other labels that had meaning or were devoid of negative meaning in each client’s cultural situation. It varies.


A Performance Model describing the outputs, measures, tasks and roles/responsibilities of the job – the result of a group process where consensu of Master Performers and other Subject Matter Experts was achieved. That makes the PD Path much more potentially effective.

Lean ISD was written over a long period, 1983 to 1999 when finally published.


Modular Curriculum Development is where the Events of the Path are built or bought or both. Events are organized Lessons or Instructional Activities – are anre each shareable in the PACT Process approach to Content ReUse.

Instructional Activity Development is when the client’s situation requires components of Events, without the event. Perhaps they just need the DEMOs  – for a National Meeting/Conference coming up, or maybe just the APPOs – that can be used in a Qualification effort for Critical Tasks. Sometimes Instruction is deliberately delivered in non-traditional settings informally, and not By Design.


There are many Resources on the topics of PACT and EPPI on the Pursuing Performance Blog and web site.

Check the Resource Tab – here.

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