Formal, non-formal, and informal learning

Education is often defined as being the process of acquiring knowledge through studying, following instructions, or another form of practical procedure. However, what’s more important to note is that learning is also a positive, continuous cycle that breeds development and leads to wonderful changes throughout our entire lives. But unlike popular belief, education doesn’t only happen in the classroom. Learning can take on a number of different forms, all of which come with unique factors and characteristics, and here are three main types of learning:

Formal learning

Often taking place in a school, formal education allows individuals to learn basic, trade, or academic skills. In most cases, formal learning starts in elementary school and continues throughout secondary school. Then, a person can choose whether they wish to pursue higher education, such as attending a university or college that grants an academic degree after completion.

Regardless of the stage or the educational institution in question, formal learning always involves stricter rules and regulations, and generally observes stern discipline. This form of education is provided by qualified professionals that should be skilled and efficient at conveying knowledge, usually by following deliberate, chronological plans, as well as utilizing a specific grading system.

A great benefit of formal learning is the credibility it provides. Simply by acquiring a degree from a reputable university in the US such as Harvard and MIT, a person will be seen as adequately trained, knowledgeable, and prepared for related job positions. However, this system is quite costly, rigid, and outdated as well, often hindering the progress of brilliant students and being unable to efficiently motivate the less talented ones.


Non-formal learning

On the other hand, non-formal learning doesn’t abide by strict systems and guidelines. Even though it is often organized in order to serve the needs of a specific group, such as distance education, computer-assisted instructions, and homeschooling, it offers far greater flexibility in terms of curriculum design, evaluation schemes, and learning style support compared to formal education.

For instance, many individuals will choose online web development courses in Australia over more traditional alternatives. As this option allows students to gain all the necessary skills, experience, and certifications needed for starting a successful career in IT, all while offering a flexible form of online learning as well as industry partner programs, it provides significantly more opportunities for any individual to build a successful career.

Similarly, all forms of non-formal education will provide adjustable syllabuses and timetables, more vocational and practical learning, along with no limit in terms of age or previous experience. This allows minds to grow and skills to develop more naturally, which can be particularly beneficial to those who find it difficult to adjust to formal education.


Informal learning

Informal education, however, refers to anything that is learned outside of traditional learning environments. It doesn’t involve a specific institution, a deliberate plan and timetable, or a fee of any kind in most cases. In fact, informal education can be picked up anywhere, without following a particular method or even making a conscious effort to learn.

Informal forms of education usually involve the things we learn ourselves and from our surroundings, from learning our mother tongue and basic life skills to acquiring information through books, websites, and social media. It is a necessary and lifelong process that is quite personal to each individual, but a notable disadvantage of this type of learning is also the fact that the quality of informal education simply can’t be measured, as it depends on a number of different factors individuals often can’t control, such as access to information and the environment where they develop.

The forms of education we encounter throughout our lives are aplenty, from the stricter learning options we choose to the natural education we have no control over. No matter the circumstance, what’s important is to remain curious and inquisitive, as the knowledge itself is always more important than the place it came from.