Does all informal learning need certification?

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Certification of informal learning is important for demonstrating our knowledge and skills. How does it work in the age of constant learning from mobile devices?

Mobile Internet is undoubtedly the most handy technology to seek information, learn and perform, anytime -anywhere. With Google and YouTube attaining the status of global gurus how can we resist learning new stuff? Technology-enabled informal learning is here to stay and it’s getting more exciting by the day! The question is how do we recognize informal learning and assess and certify the knowledge acquired from non-schooling means and non-conventional methods? Especially when certification is a prerequisite for applying for a job? How do we use this learning for being more productive? Recognition of  Prior learning, in the context of adult learning plays an important role in formalizing the informally acquired skills and learning. It is one of the most effective ways to get certified and upskill oneself in order to improve job prospects and job satisfaction.

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Informal learning and certification for skill development

One of the recent Idea Cellular Ad campaigns on TV showed a series of situations where mobile Internet could be used as a medium for continuous, informal learning, skill development and social empowerment. In line with the smartness of other socially relevant Ads from Idea Cellular, these Ads too depicted different people in different situations, logging in to Idea Internet Network (IIN) to learn everything from learning a musical instrument to engineering and becoming a chef, an engineer, a lawyer and so on. It’s true IIN is more of an advertising gimmick and it exaggerates and misleads people into believing that having access to fast Internet results in quick and easy learning. Yes, you can learn anything from the Internet provided you are passionate and highly motivated about the subject; content on the Internet can trigger our imagination, make us explore, discover and we apply this learning in thinking innovatively, and creatively. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely far fetched idea to expect to build a career without much effort in making informal learning systematic. Actually, seeking information is always not equal to learning to be able to perform. This could apply to learning plumbing skills, or culinary skills or engineering skills.

Information is not instruction. For any outcome based learning, information has to be designed appropriately and contextualized with practical demonstrations, exercises and tests.

Though the Ad could be as misleading as a detergent or fairness cream commercial, it’s good to see the awareness it has created about the scope of informal elearning and mobile learning as a means to learn independently. The emphasis on padhna aur seekhna (academic learning and doing by practice), as emphasised in these ads is something very relevant especially when video based learning has huge scope to demonstrate the practical aspects. The challenge is to sustain this type of informal learning in the long run and attain the desired outcomes to be able to get employed or create employment for others. So, how do we put this informal learning to use? What if our learning has been unstructured and we have dropped out and couldn’t sustain it. How do we recognize and reward this knowledge and skills? What are the alternative ways of certifying self-initiated learning and skill development?

RPL is the systematic way of assessing one’s prior knowledge and competence in order to award the right credits and a suitable career path. It works well in several occupations, especially in evaluating the basic skills and knowledge.

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