Peter Henschel, former director of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL), said (Cross, 2007, p. xiii): “People are learning all the time, in varied settings and often most effectively in the context of work itself. ‘Training’ ─ formal learning of all kinds ─ channels some important learning but doesn’t carry the heaviest load. The workhorse of the knowledge economy has been, and continues to be, informal learning (p. xiiip. xiii).” Cross (2007) defines informal learning as any learning that takes place outside of the classroom, which he considers formal learning. Cross (2007, p. 243) explains that study results vary, but findings still show that the majority, anywhere from 70 to 90 percent, of learning in organizations takes place informally. Yet, corporations spend 80% of their training budget on formal training and only 20% on informal (p. 17). Deepak (Dick) Sethi, the CEO of Organic Leadership, said (Cross, 2007): “Informal learning is effective because it is personal, just-in-time, customized, and the learner is motivated and open to receiving it. It also has greater credibility and relevance” (p. 17). Yammer is in fact used during and throughout the work day, in the context of work itself, so, if, as a person is working, and they can use a microblog to receive information they can learn from that is relevant to what they are working on, then this could be a really powerful informal learning tool. People are more likely to engage when content is relevant to them (Ambrose et al., 2010, p. 83)

Sargeant, et al. (2006) conducted a study that focused on high-scoring physicians. Results showed that a fundamental component of success was informal learning opportunities, especially through working with patients, and working with and having discussions with colleagues. Similarly in a study that examined how nurses become competent practitioners, informal learning strategies proved to be key (Sharoff, 2006).

The use of a microblog itself is an informal experience. While some people post updates once a day, others update it every time they change tasks. The question is: can a glance at a status message about work activities help us learn and even perform better? Will questions posted in the moment of need, just in time, be answered fast enough to provide real value?

This is a section of a research study, to read more, go to the Table of Contents.

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