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Jay Cross helps people work and live smarter. Jay is the Johnny Appleseed of informal learning. He wrote the book on it. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix.

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Informal Learning and Learnscapes


posted on
March 31st, 2010
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Working Smarter: The “unbook” that shows why informal learning must be part of everyone’s future learnscapes

By Sahana Chattopadhyay via Amplify

The excerpt below from @janebozarth reflects her takeaway from Jay Cross’ unbook, Working Smarter. I finished reading the book last week and have been meaning to summarize my learning from it. Then, I came across the article today by Jane Bozarth where she has captured it all beautifully…

I have added my experience of the book below…

The unbook is a compressed, deceptively tiny-looking thing that is heavy on graphics, charts, diagrams, along with insightful text. Being an Instructional Designer, my first thought was: this book makes me interact with it. And because it did, my take away from it has been immense.

Using an almost “multimedia-like feel”, Jay Cross makes the reading of this unbook an experiential one. There is ample opportunity for the reader to pause, reflect on a diagram, think through the key points mentioned…The experience of reading it coupled with the content makes me glad that I did not miss it.

I have read Informal Learning and this one sums it all up. The previous one enabled me to evolve my understanding of informal, collaborative learning and this one shows me how I can act on it. Why it is imperative that we, as L&D professionals, try to act on it…

Working Smarter walks the reader through not only the crux of informal learning but also guides you into how you’d go about facilitating it…Jay Cross takes you on a tour as @janebozarth says, and shows you how to go about facilitating, stewarding, championing informal learning…

The checklist of questions, pointers, suggestions–all make this unbook so much more than theory. Moreover, by calling it an unbook, Jay Cross effectively portrays the fluidity and volatility of knowledge.

What is an unbook?

The unbook.com describes an unbook thus: (ref: http://theunbook.com/2009/02/18/what-is-an-unbook/)

Just as learning never ends, knowledge is never static and thus not “capturable” in the true sense…Because KMs have not been able to facilitate this fluidity, most have become document repositories. And of little value to organizations where knowledge without ongoing addition of context is just so much compiled, accumulated data.

And hence, the need for Informal Learning–the only way that the constantly changing nature of today’s business, knowledge, content, context, needs, can be shared, utilized for growth, innovation, development—both organizational and personal. Informal learning adds that much-needed context to an ever-growing volume of information, adds meaning to the data, and thereby facilitates efficient decision making.

Working Smarter is a must read as is Informal Learning.

More to follow in my blog.


Sahana Chattopadhyay began her career as a high school English teacher and went on to become an online facilitator of EFL to adult Japanese learners. This experience gave her valuable insights into how adults learn and some of the ways of facilitating online communication. Simultaneously, her interest in eLearning as a medium grew, and she formally entered the world of Instructional Design. Sahana says Instructional Design taught her the value and importance of being a lifelong learner.

Sahana resides in Mumbai, India. She blogs at ID and Other Reflections. We know one another from participating in #lrnchat.

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