How much of the learning types do you master? Then, what do you know about non-formal learning methods? What have been your learning experiences in your life and how has each one impacted your life and you? Let’s take a look at the types of learning together. Maybe there are methods you haven’t heard of before. There is a high chance that you may have seen or heard about formal, informal and non-formal learning methods somewhere.
Do you know the differences between them? What are the characteristics of learners in this type of learning? There is even an ongoing project to disseminate these types of learning! Let’s talk a little about these.
What is the impact of non-formal learning in youth work? Then, let’s evaluate how these types of learning were experienced and how they were affected, especially among university-age youth and young adults.
Formal education — A type of learning that most of us have actually taken. It is based on a formal curriculum and is awarded an officially recognized certificate such as a high school-university diploma. It is usually guided and recognized by a government. Teachers are generally professionally trained.
Non-formal learning — A method of learning that may or may not have a formal curriculum. Training is delivered by a qualified teacher or a leader with experience. Although it does not result in a formal degree or diploma, non-formal education is highly enriching. It also develops the skills and capacities of the individual. We can cite scout groups as an example. It is generally considered more engaging, as student interest is the driving force behind their engagement.
Informal learning — There is no formal curriculum. The tutorial here can only be someone with more experience, such as a parent, grandparent, or friend. Examples of such learning are a father teaching his child to play or a babysitter teaching a child the alphabet. Of course, these definitions can be simplified explanations. There are times when the lines between each type of learning become blurred. We can say that these definitions can give us a general idea about each type of learning.
When you look at the above definitions in your life, which one is at the forefront? Learning methods all have quite different effects on our lives.
Every individual who has had this type of learning throughout their lives has different characteristics. If you take a moment to think about the sum of everything you know, you will realize that a small part of this learning takes place in a classroom.
Informal or non-formal learning is as critical as formal education and training is critical to human development. Today we live in a world that offers unprecedented opportunities for self-directed, cross-functional, community-oriented education. Now, each individual aims to learn by himself or by using the method closest to him.
Informal learners are curious and collaborative, gaining knowledge and sharing it with others. They seem to pursue a hobby that gives them pleasure or skills that make them more valuable in the workplace. However, studies show that for self-learning students, the knowledge gained through non-formal education lasts longer than other methods!
There are a number of non-formal learning resources available online, from resources we can access online like Wikipedia and YouTube to many sites that focus on sharing deep expertise on a single topic. Taken together, this expanding universe of free knowledge shows that learning is increasingly not limited to just access to institutions. Therefore, it attracts the student to the ever-growing world of non-formal education.
Why Does Non-formal Learning Work?
Non-formal learning allows students to choose topics that interest them. The process is student-led. This naturally increases engagement and retention.
Non-formal learning does not contain metrics, allowing students to set their own expectations around “success”. Many people who are not worried about a grade or other metric relax and learn more. It allows students to explore a big topic “one bite at a time”. For many, this is a more effective strategy than drowning in a formal learning scenario trying to consume everything at once.
At the same time, non-formal learning proceeds on its own, with no rigid timelines or formal checkpoints. This, in turn, allows students to progress at a natural learning pace, depending on their preferred learning style or choosing resources that suit their strengths.
Informal Learning in Youth Work
Using non-formal learning methods, it is necessary to chat with young people, organize activities for them, celebrate their success, listen to their problems, share their disappointments and support them. This enables institutions and governments to better understand young people. It makes it easier for them to empathize with them that is why when there is no obligation or official situation, everyone is more comfortable and expresses themselves easily when expressing their problems.
With non-formal learning, participation in processes and activities also increases. Teens and young adults learn more about themselves, each other, and what’s going on in the world. These approaches emphasize learning in the context of a positive relationship and highlight genuine relationships where people are valued and increase emotionality and empathy in society.
Is There A Project In This Field?
Did you know that there is a project that started 1 year ago and will last for 2 years in total in this non-formal learning field we are talking about? The Youth Ambassadors of Non Formal Learning Project is a project that aims to train young ambassadors in the field of non-formal learning and to make these young people leaders in this field. At the same time, the project continues to be implemented under the title of capacity building in the field of youth, within the scope of the Erasmus+ Program supported by the European Union.
As CORBİZ, the project, in which we are also involved, has 11 international partners in total. The 11 countries involved in the project are respectively; Bosnia and Herzegovina (Applicant), Slovenia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Greece, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Italy. The kick-off meeting of the project was held in North Macedonia. The primary purpose of the project; To try to promote the validation and recognition of non-formal education and the competencies gained in this context, with innovative methodologies adapting to the 21st century.
Focus group meetings were held on the Youth Ambassadors of Non Formal Learning project. In these meetings, non-formal learning types were also introduced. Participants shared their non-formal learning stories. There were various participants from different professions, from English teachers to the president of the association. It can be said that some participants’ lives have gone to different places with non-formal learning!
A short time ago, we were in Italy as part of the project and participated in a short-term “Expertise Training”. Within the scope of the training, studies were carried out with partners to train young ambassadors for non-formal learning and a local action plan was created for each partner organization. At the same time, assessments were made on the skills that are thought to be in young ambassadors.
What Are the Young People in the Project Saying?
As part of the Youth Ambassadors of Non Formal Learning Project, young people from different parts of the world who grew up in many different cultures continue to tell their own success stories that come with non-formal learning methods! Each of them says that non-formal learning has a very important place in their lives. All of them talk about the importance of getting out of their comfort zone.
Adrijana, 25, says the reason why non-formal education is invaluable is that it is a form of knowledge and experience.” You can’t earn something like that by going to a travel agency and paying money or going to the library,” she adds.
21-year-old Anna talks about her non-formal education experiences in the Erasmus+ project; “I took my first non-formal education to learn different marketing skills in an international environment. Another was when I went to Barcelona, Spain for a month, and it was my second non-formal education. I feel more confident and comfortable in situations where I have to speak English, and I feel more confident expressing myself in front of people. Non-formal education is very valuable today. Learning new things is helpful, it also helps you find other people with similar interests and ideas.”
After what you’ve learned (you’ve actually learned them widely!) what do you think about non-formal learning types? Have you reviewed your experiences or want to start a whole new type of education? Whatever you do, it’s sure to give you a whole new perspective!