Informal Learning

Informal Learning

Informal learning is learning-on-the-job, or any learning not systematized—such as mentoring and coaching. Like its ancestor in the Middle Ages—the apprenticeship—informal learning is a vital part in any training and learning program, particularly when deployed in conjunction with formal training and performance classes. Informal learning can include a wide array of activities ranging from brown bag lunches and collective learning sessions to virtual learning communities on the Web.



Victoria Marsick and M. Volpe (eds.): Advances in Developing Human Resources: Informal Learning On the Job.

Information Mapping

Information mapping is a term used by instructional designers to refer to the proper layout of print materials or on-screen text. Formatting issues such as sidebars, running subheads, and structured writing are addressed, as well as the proper placement of illustrations and graphics. The term was coined in the 1960s by Robert Horn, who emphasized the importance of proper and consistent formatting for training binders. Today the term includes interface and screen design as well.



Robert Horn: Information Mapping for Learning and Reference.


Edward Tufte: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Tufte is one of the great graphic designers of all times. All three of his books are highly recommended.


Robert Horn: Mapping Hypertext.


Edward Tufte: Envisioning Information.


Edward Tufte: Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative.


An intervention (literally, an "assistance," analogous to a medical intervention) is any performance initiative that steps into an organization with the intent of improving its efficiency and effectiveness. The term is often employed by organizational developers for change management initiatives. Among the many books on organizational development and interventions, two of the pioneering ones are listed below.



Chris Argyris: Intervention Theory and Method.


Wendell French and Cecil Bell: Organization Development: Behavioral Science Interventions for Organization Improvement.

See also Organizational Development

Job Aids

Job aids are checklists or memory-joggers, what the French call aides-memoire. A common example of a job aid is the preflight checklist used by an airline pilot. With its low cost and its solution to a potential life-and-death performance problem, it is a perfect example of the potential ROI (return on investment) for even low-tech job aids. In factories, job aids—called process sheets—display manufacturing specs. There are also electronic job aids, including electronic performance support systems (EPSS), online drop-down lists or instruction sheets, and online help. As part of a larger knowledge management system, job aids can contain mission-critical procedures to follow, and avoid costly mistakes.

Level 3 Transfer: Job Aids and On-the-Job Performance

Inside every fat course is a thin job aid crying to get out.

—Joe Harless, 1970

The most important function of job aids is to link training to practice. Job aids contain the key facts and procedures that need to be reinforced on the job. Doubt the value of job aids? Just walk down any row of cubicles and note the flowcharts, wall charts, and list of procedures on the cubicle walls. Most of these are job aids and quick reference tools, and the only living reminder of trainings delivered months earlier.


For a small tool, a job aid provides large benefits. A job aid is:

  • Effective—pinpoints critical procedures

  • Fast—instant access

  • Low Cost—more impact per dollar than any other training technology

  • Updatable—whether hardcopy or electronic

What other performance improvement tool can match these criteria all at once? The field for job aids is endless and untapped.



Albert Chalupsky and T. Kopf: Job Performance Aids and Their Impact on Manpower Utilization.


Joe Harless: An Ounce of Analysis Is Worth a Pound of Objectives. Includes consideration of job aids.


Claude Lineberry and D. Bullock: Job Aids.


Allison Rossett and Jeannette Gautier-Downes: A Handbook of Job Aids. One of the classic texts.


Saundra Williams: Performance Support Systems and Job Aids.

See also Knowledge Management Learning Objects Electronic Performance Support Systems