The main difference between formal and informal education is that formal education is planned and structured and takes place in a traditional learning environment, whereas informal education is unplanned and does not take place in a traditional learning setting.
Humans learn throughout their lives. Depending on the way we learn, we can broadly categorize learning into two main types; they are formal and informal learning. Generally, we accumulate a lot of knowledge through both these learning methods.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Formal Learning
– Definition, Features
2. What is Informal Learning
– Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Formal and Informal Learning
– Comparison of Key Differences
Formal Learning, Informal Learning
What is Formal Learning
Formal learning refers to learning that takes place in a formal and organized environment like a classroom. Also, formal learning includes specialized programs like vocational training and professional training for correspondent subject areas. It takes place with the assistance of a well-developed curriculum. In order to maintain the standards of formal learning, formal learning centers like schools and universities are governed by organizations. These organizations can be different from one country to another. For example, some countries have school boards governing schools, whereas, some countries have local ministries governing schools and universities.
Formal learning has a plan and involves teachers and educators. Usually, formal learning takes place in a face-to-face setting or through an online learning platform. Formal learning has a set of goals to achieve. There are different teaching methods in formal learning. An educator can deliver the course content either in a traditional classroom setting or on an online learning platform. Face-to-face learning involves seminars, coaching sessions, and training sessions, whereas online learning takes place using a learning management system.
What is Informal Learning
Informal learning refers to unplanned and unstructured learning that takes place in an informal setting. It does not take place in traditional learning environments like schools and universities. In fact, informal learning may take place anywhere or anytime. For example, informal learning can take place in a workplace, at a bus stop, or at home. Furthermore, this learning takes place based on daily life experiences and other influences on the learners’ background.
Informal learning does not consist of a set of goals. There are different methods of informal learning, such as conversations, fun activities, forums, and online communities. In informal learning, learners may conduct personal research on books and resources. At the same time, learners do not receive instructions or directions in informal learning environments. Here, learners themselves have to learn and understand the facts. In addition, informal learning often takes place in organizations where employees try to learn by themselves.
Difference Between Formal and Informal Learning
Formal learning refers to learning that takes place in a formal and organized environment like a classroom, while informal learning refers to unplanned and unstructured learning that takes place in an informal setting.
Although formal learning is goal-oriented, informal learning is not goal oriented.
Formal learning is structured and organized and takes place in a traditional learning environment, whereas informal learning is unplanned and unstructured and does not usually involve a traditional learning environment.
Formal learning is delivered with the guidance of an instructor, and learners are directed, while informal learning is not delivered with the guidance of an instructor.
The methods we use in formal learning are completely different from the methods we use in informal learning. Formal learning uses methods like face-to-face setting seminars, coaching sessions, and training sessions, whereas informal learning uses methods like forums, fun activities, conversations, and online communities.
In brief, we can broadly categorize learning into two main types; formal and informal learning. The main difference between formal and informal education is that formal education is planned and structured and takes place in a traditional learning environment, whereas informal education is unplanned and does not take place in a traditional learning setting.
1. “Informal education.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.
1. “Room-education-classroom-children-library-students-1237486” By Pxhere – 1237486 (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Octagon Model of Informal Learning” By Julian Decius, Niclas Schaper, Andreas Seifert – Decius, J., Schaper, N. & Seifert, A. (2019). Informal workplace learning: Development and validation of a measure. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 30(4), 495-535. https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.21368 (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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