Education is the process of gaining or imparting knowledge and being successful later. This whole process demands learning, and it is done in many ways. And to acquire knowledge, you have to undergo at least each process of learning. ‘Learning’ gives us the idea of classes, extracurricular activities, syllabus, structured rooms, and the entire academic process that our kids or we experience. Even though you learn daily from incidents you face, people you meet, or the experiences, the list goes on. Today, you will learn about the learning types an education sector or the workplace follows: formal and informal learning.
Following are the details of these two categories of learning with their pros and cons.
What is Formal Learning?
The meaning of the word ‘Formal’ is well-structured, certified, or official in the dictionary. Formal learning is also known as formal education and educational platforms, either online or traditional, focusing on providing and creating training programs with specific objectives or goals. In another way, you can say it’s an organized, systematic, and goal-driven learning method within the premises of an area.
The best example of formal learning is school, colleges, and university, where the institution’s objectives are not explicit for the learner. Some of you might know the concept of formal learning or education as ‘synchronous,’ in which students are bound to attend a class at the same time and place. A set of objectives and goals are assigned to each student, and they have to accomplish them to get a promotion. Moreover, all students have to give the exam under the supervision of highly professional teachers and with a properly planned syllabus acquired by the institution.
Pros of Formal Learning:
- The educational environment is well-organized with a scheduled framework and fee structure.
- It has clear objectives and follows a curriculum planned by highly qualified teachers or instructors.
- Such a learning method helps improve student performance, not only in studies but also in extracurricular activities or sports.
- It takes certified assessments and final exams in a step-by-step systematic manner.
- Highly professional teachers and staff mainly acquire it.
- It promises to develop social, teamwork, or alternative skills of each student in a way that helps them achieve their common goals of life.
- The continuous and disciplined self-growth of students is mainly focused on formal learning.
- It provides dynamic learning opportunities where students can communicate face-to-face with their teachers and instantly solve queries.
- Physical participation of students daily boosts their self-confidence.
Cons of Formal Learning:
- Students of all mindsets are bound to study the same thing, which sometimes leads to academic stress and pressure.
- It is mainly considered a high-cost learning method with a rigid academic system that sometimes wastes the money and time of bright kids.
- Some institutions have unprofessional staff who provide non-standard education to their pupils.
- All students need to be motivated almost every day, so they may not lack behind or question their abilities. Poor management of institutes made kids think so.
- Brilliant students have to wait for a whole year to get a promotion, and such a long tenure of the academic session makes them lose interest.
- Flawed institutional rules made some students face bullying or unpleasant remarks on their grades, results, or appearances.
- Fast and slow learners are bound to sit simultaneously to learn the same subject within a specific time limit.
What is Informal Learning?
Informal means something casual, natural, easy-going, or unofficial. Informal learning is also known as informal education. It is the kind of knowledge someone gains from the Internet, browse it on their own, or register for online training. In other words, things you learn outside the formal environment are called informal learning. Such knowledge is gained under the influence of society or surroundings without any theoretical practices like cooking, swimming, or driving.
Another example of informal learning is your mother tongue because you do not need an academic institute to learn ‘how to speak’ this language. You adapt the knowledge of language from your surroundings. But to learn how to write it, you are moved to a formal learning technique. Some of you might know the concept of informal learning or education as ‘asynchronous,’ in which students are not restricted to time and place. They are free to learn or attend the class on their own, anytime and anywhere. Moreover, it is the learning method that everybody is a part of daily, knowingly or unknowingly.
Pros of Informal Learning:
- It promotes self-learning as it is mainly unplanned with no fee structure or definite syllabus. It is total, gained through practice in a natural way.
- Do not demand high expert skills to make use of a technique or stick to a strict period.
- Free from rules and regulations, it means one can choose any source of gaining an education.
- The nature of informal learning is stress-free.
- It is more accessible and democratic, offers unlimited research and knowledge via the Internet.
- It encourages one to learn more by themselves and practice the gained knowledge in daily life.
- It makes the learner vulnerable to share their information with others and gets valuable returns.
Cons of Informal Learning:
- Its undisciplined nature makes the learner less immersed in other fruitful learning methods.
- The Internet is also filled with plenty of misinformation. Sometimes the informal learner gains the wrong knowledge, which causes trouble later.
- It doesn’t give its learner enough self-confidence to stand in a group of well-disciplined people. It does not provide an atmosphere to help one improve their communication, social interaction skills.
- This learning method comes with a flexible schedule which makes its learners challenge with procrastination.
- Here, lessons are learned through experiences or practices only; until then, one must face unpredicted results quite often.
- It is considered chiefly less effective because of the unreliable learning resources it has offered.
- The motivation of learning and sticking to the lesson or anything is lower.
- It mostly comes with no instructor or guidance to help improve the mistakes.
Which learning method is right to follow?
There is no right or wrong when choosing between the Formal learning method and the Informal learning method. Both are essential and depend on the learner type or their style. You cannot rely on one learning method to go far in life and ignore the other one entirely. Both are the ingredients of high-quality life that needs to excel; however, the limitations are applied.
The formal learner should not evaluate their progress or success rate on the grades they achieve, and they should explore other means of gaining knowledge. Similarly, informal learners do not believe everything they learn on their own, and they should communicate with experienced beings or practice something regularly to be an expert.
Here we conclude, to develop the personality and character of your kid or yours, you need to focus on all learning methods this world has to offer. This mixed bag of learning methods encourages one to learn more and be a better human being. But always keep in mind the pros and cons of formal and informal language because you cannot deny that everything has two sides, so learn and unlearn daily. Also, remember what Albert Einstein has said to us:
“Wisdom is not only a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
― Albert Einstein