Inclusiveness in Instructional Design & Development of Informal Learning Experiences: From Cultural Lenses
This position paper focuses on inclusive instructional design and development of informal learning in online environments. The literature-based position is developed from the lenses of typology of culture, learning, and technology, universal design for learning, decolonization, and strength-based approaches. With the framework of Activity Theory, informal learning carries past and present, individual, and collective cultural and social meanings. These influence individual agency’s fulfillment of various learning purposes with spaces and activities which instructional design and development can shape inclusively. This inclusiveness situates in understanding transformative needs of informal learning, is apprised by participatory cross-cultural research and inseparable from critiquing, selecting, and integrating with technologies.
Gab, Parler, and (Mis)educational Technologies: Reconsidering Informal Learning on Social Media Platforms
“Alternative” social media platforms like Parler and Gab—on which hate speech and conspiracy theories often exist unchecked—present an opportunity for instructional designers and other education professionals to revisit assumptions about informal learning on social media. Employing a conceptual framework that distinguishes education from miseducation, we use these controversial platforms to argue that educators should more fully consider: 1) the miseducation happening in learning spaces, 2) how the design of educational technologies may amplify miseducation, and 3) the importance that formal education resist miseducation.
Justice-Oriented Lurking: How Educators Lurk and Learn in the Marginal Syllabus
This case study examines interviews describing the experience of social reading and lurking as a form of informal learning. This study details the ways educator lurking occurred in the Marginal Syllabus, a public informal learning community that discusses educational equity topics, implications for literacy education, and digital pedagogy. Strategies are offered for instructional designers to optimize social reading and lurking practices for informal online communities that challenge dominant cultures and educational narratives. Research on social reading and lurking as informal learning is needed to leverage informal online communities to dialogue about educational equity and more just learning futures.
Parents Caring, Sharing, and Learning Together Online: An Examination of Information Seeking and Learning Strategies Utilized in an Online Health-Related Support Group
The current study explored various dimensions of informal learning by members of a Facebook group made up of parents and caretakers of infants or children with Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Interview and posting data were collected and analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach. Findings led to the creation of a new model of information-seeking designed to apply to online informal learning spaces that are found in social media groups. This model includes the stages of initiating, lurking, and browsing; requesting information; being guided by a highly knowledgeable member; reconciling; applying; and appraising. In contrast to previous information seeking models, this model proposes a continuous cycle with entry and exit permitted at each stage based on the learner’s needs.
Informal Learning Experiences on Social Media: The Case of #MarketingTwitter
Informal learning in online social communities encourages a sense of belonging and support in a casual environment while enhancing members' knowledge and expertise. Several studies have explored the use and benefit of online social communities, particularly in the education field. Yet, little research examines how informal learning occurs in other professional hashtag communities on Twitter. This research explores the #MarketingTwitter professional's community to identify how users promote an instructional design of informal learning experiences and strategies to engage and impact members in the community including possible new users.
Learning Without Borders: Moving Beyond the Comfort of the Classroom Cohort to an Inter-cohort
This study explored student responsiveness to using social web technologies as a tool for fostering dialogues across university boundaries. Focused on the theme “Learning Without Borders,” this study explored student responsiveness to using a video discussion tool (Flipgrid) to facilitate an inter-cohort collaboration between classes from two universities. The results highlight students’ appreciation towards practicing “Learning Without Borders” rather than simply reading about it. Also, students’ reflections on the experience raises their awareness about learning as occurring in one centralized location versus a distributed phenomenon mediated by social technologies. The authors argue for a new direction in online classes, one that moves the conversation from siloed, limited engagement to supporting a paradigm of Learning Without Borders.
Place-Making for Informal Learning in an Online Programming Course
In this article, we report on exploratory research that documented the informal student-generated interactions in Piazza, an open-source discussion system. This research leverages the concept of place-making to understand how students co-designed Piazza as a place for their learning of the Python programming language in an advanced programming online course at a large northeastern university. Our analysis shows how students used Piazza in specific ways to connect their informal learning to their formal class learning. We suggest that educators and instructional designers can leverage a place-making approach to grant students learning opportunities by having them co-design their learning.
Free Asynchronous Professional Development By, From, and For Instructional Designers: How Informal Learning Opportunities Shape Our Professional Learning and Design Practices
Instructional designers (IDs) need to maintain an understanding of the current trends and issues within the field. Pursuing professional learning informally supports IDs’ effort to keep up with current trends and issues because it is not restricted by curriculum and time. Professional development (PD) offered by Professional Development for Instructional Designers (PD4IDs) learning group can address issues related to geographical and funding limitations. This application paper presents the coordination of PD based on the conceptual framework (e.g., Community of Practice and Social Network Knowledge Construction) and reflections of several PD4IDs members with various roles. The reflections indicate the benefits of participating in PD for shaping IDs’ professional learning and practices. Discussion and implications for IDs intending to pursue non-traditional PD are also presented.
Instructional Designers’ Use of Informal Learning: How Can We All Support Each Other in Times of Crisis?
The purpose of this study was to investigate instructional designers’ needs during a rapid transition to remote learning due to COVID-related shutdowns of campuses, schools, and organizations. For the purpose of this study, we chose a large Facebook group for instructional designers as a medium of informal learning. Following a mixed-method study design, we answered the following research questions: (RQ1) What needs did instructional designers express and report in an informal learning environment during the COVID-19 crisis? (RQ2) In what way did an informal learning environment facilitate peer-to-peer support for instructional designers? The findings of this study highlighted diverse expressed needs, ranging from educational technology needs to COVID-19 specific and general pedagogical needs. We found that peer-to-peer support between instructional designers was facilitated in an informal learning environment through an exchange of ideas and advice that were prompted by questions/requests for support. The study begins to document the needs of instructional designers during the COVID-19 crisis in instructional design technology (IDT) literature. The online environment we studied seems to provide numerous options for informal learning activities for instructional design professionals.
Undergraduate Students in Online Social Communities: An Exploratory Investigation of Deliberate Informal Learning Practices
A total of 573 undergraduate students consented to participate in this investigation about deliberate informal learning practices using social media. Data analysis consisted of parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures. An analysis of the rankings provided by undergraduate students for the different deliberate informal learning activities performed in their most used social media (MUSM) showed that listening to podcasts related to their area of study, following/connecting with professional organizations, and connecting with leaders in their field of study were ranked higher than the other activities. The results also showed evidence of statistically significant differences in the ranking provided to the informal learning activities performed by undergraduate students in their least used social media (LUSM). Listening to podcasts related to their area of study, viewing videos that can assist with coursework, and following/connecting with professional organizations were ranked higher than the other deliberate informal learning activities. The results of this investigation can be of benefit to instructors, regardless of the discipline of study, and instructional designers wishing to connect academic activities with informal learning endeavors that undergraduate students are already performing for personal enjoyment while participating in online social communities.
Designing Online Professional Learning to Support In-Service and Preservice Teachers Adapting to Emergency Remote Teaching
Service-learning partners, including a faculty of education and local school district, engaged in collaborative inquiry to support in-service and preservice teachers who were engaged in emergency remote teaching during a time of crisis and school disruption. This article illustrates how service-learning partners designed a professional learning series in an online learning environment to support in-service and preservice teachers adapting to teaching online. This article shares the instructional design process used to develop the series, insights about how the participants responded during the sessions, and a set of recommendations to inform design teams involved in developing professional learning or other types of non-formal learning opportunities for teachers.
Bridging the Informal and Formal Learning Spaces with WhatsApp
WhatsApp is the most popular mobile instant messaging (IM) app in the global south. Hence, its use in informal and formal learning spaces has significant potential and is worthy of investigation. This study explored how University faculty and students in Namibia and India used WhatsApp for learning support and to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning. From a total of 182 participants, results reveal that WhatsApp has the potential to engage users in an informal and formal learning support and delivery environment. Learning designers and those responsible for professional development need to take note of this instant messaging app and experiment with various culturally contextual learning design models to support learning.