Learning is foundational to economic and life success in today’s society. While learning is often conceived of as a product of the traditional school setting (mostly classroom-based, and leading to an educational credential), it occurs every day in a multitude of ways across a range of settings—much of it in the workplace. This learning—referred to as “informal learning”—impacts the lives of students, workers, employers, and the broader economy in many ways that can significantly promote economic success and a robust economy. This comprehensive literature review examined hundreds of publications with a focus on review articles in the past 25 years, both within and outside of the US. Through this review of existing works, this project offers a framework for examining informal learning building on existing works on the subject. The review examines the numerous ways that informal learning occurs, the benefits and drawbacks of these different forms of informal learning, and the implications for equity. The review also discusses the potential ways that informal learning can be measured and recognized so that it translates more directly into value for the learner.
This project is supported by the ACT Foundation.