To gain an understanding of informal learning, it is beneficial to describe the main settings in which adults learn. Three types of settings where adult learning occurs are formal institutional settings, non-formal settings, and informal.
Formal settings, such as colleges and universities, are curriculum driven and recognized with diplomas or certificates. Non-formal settings, such as churches and libraries, offer learning opportunities that tend to be short-term and have no requirements for prior knowledge of the skill or topic being taught. Simply stated, learning that takes place in dedicated educational institutions is viewed as formal, while learning that takes place beyond the school walls is viewed as non-formal. Informal learning is learning that takes place in such contexts as our homes and places of employment.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 75 percent of all the learning that occurs in any given organization is considered informal. What exactly is informal learning in the workplace? Informal learning in the workplace is the process of learning while on the job. It is learning that is acquired through interacting with colleagues, interacting with clientele and suppliers, and discovering new methods that assist in enhancing the performance of the learner, for example.