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Page history last edited by Jay Cross 15 years, 1 month ago



















 Hi Jay  I've been meaning to write this for some time. You've made an impact on my life, and I want thank you.

You aren't aware of 99% of our interactions because it's me interacting with your blog.  (We ve met a couple of times at conferences and I am connected to you on linkedin, Facebook and ning.)

You've challenged my thought processes and what I think I know to be true.  I've been reading your posts for a long time and have grown lots since the beginning.  I read lots of blogs but this is my favorite and I appreciate your tenacity, transparency, generosity and courage.

You take risks on behalf of learning and report the truth as you know it to be.  Your blogs are easy to read, highly relevant to learning and are free from ads and other vendor sales pitches. I also enjoy the non-training content (e.g., authentic happiness, Beginners Mind, etc). Even the new Mac and food content - I'm a new mac user (pressure came from my kids who use Macs at school) and I changed my eating habits several years ago and feel better as I get older.

I ll be posting my own blog soon and will use your blog as inspiration. So, you ve made a difference in my life, and I want to thank you.


"In an outsourced, automated age, informal learning has become the key to high perperformance and personal fulfillment. And now Jay Cross has written the very best primer on this woefully neglacted topic. This is a book for both sides of your brain!"

--Daniel H. Pink, author, A Whole New Mind


“The key to the 21st Century will be in learning how to leverage informal learning for us all. Jay provides us an evocative roadmap to how we can do this.”

John Seely Brown, coauthor of the social life of information, former chief scientist, Xerox corp.


"I can't think of e-learning without thinking of Jay Cross." Brian Miller


"Jay is a marketing and messaging master. He's helped me with many things over the years because, well, he gets stuff out faster than anyone I know and always spins the message in new and fun ways." Marcia Conner

Top 10 US e-learning gurus

1. Roger Schank
2. Jay Cross
3. Mark Prensky
4. John Seeley-Brown
5. Michael Allen
6. Clark Alrdridge
7. Elliot Masie
8. Brandon-Hall
9. Marc Rosenberg
10. Curtis Bonk


Don Clark, Epic Group plc


Highly Recommended, March 26, 2007


Jay Cross has written an invaluable book here for many reasons.


It can be hard to face up to, but the medieval basis of our education is suddenly and starkly out of touch with the needs of a post-network society. After reading this book, it's hard not to face up to that fact, because we now have a compelling, if nascent, alternative. The web enables a wholly different, but infinitely more effective approach to learning - through self-direction, and peer collaboration, motivated by individual choice, for example. As Jay points out, given the complexity and pace of change of 21st century life, we simply must change. (I have an 8 year -old daughter in school and it pains me to see what she's going through when it will all become obsolete in just a few years.) He outlines a kind of proto-pedagogical alternative, taking 'natural' learning as its starting point. He blends online/offline ideas with ideas from design, motivational psychology, etc, but is careful not to lose sight of learning objectives.


As an educator/trainer of over 20 years myself, I believe the book succeeds. Jay isn't a tremendous stylist, nor are his ideas wildly original, but he does exactly what is needed. He makes the case for alternative approaches to learning in a clear and simple way with plenty of diagrams, and examples. Although his focus is on corporate training, rather than traditional education, the implications reverberate. He brings years of training experience, together with an optimistic outlook to practice what he preaches. Having read his blog over the course of several months it has left it's mark on my own.


The book is almost a metaphor for the kinds of challenge we face: hard to pin down, constantly changing, yet sometimes so obvious that we fail to see the significance. Jay doesn't have all the answers because that is the kind of (medieval) certainty he cautions against. He has brought an important discussion into the light of day. I don't know anyone who wouldn't benefit from this book.


Ken Carroll


Powerful and visionary,

October 25, 2007
By  Jonathan Vinoskey "JV" (San Diego, VA USA) - See all my reviews
I've read articles by Jay Cross for years, and was pleased to get his book on the seminal topic of Informal Learning. Jay has a history of identifying trends and technology use for learning (he was among the first to use the term eLearning) so I was keen to read his thoughts on informal learning.


Widely acknowledged as the lion's share of corporate learning, informal learning is a difficult subject because it is even more nebulous and difficult to measure than formal learning. While there is a body of work on how to measure formal learning results including Kirkpatrick's levels, we have yet to determine realistic methods or measurements for informal learning. This book helps guide the learning industry in the right direction.

 T+D Magazine

As someone who makes a living out of designing formal learning systems for large corporations, I was an unlikely candidate to buy into Jay Cross’s theory that formal learning is largely ineffective. But my curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself totally engrossed in his out-of-the-ordinary thinking on learning.

As its title indicates, Informal Learning hinges on the premise that most learning on the job-about 80 percent-occurs informally. Ironically, however, most corporations overspend on formal training and ignore the simpler and more natural ways in which employees learn. The book is about leveraging this type of relaxed, impromptu learning instead of emphasizing the formal strategies that most corporations propagate.


The first chapter discusses our dramatically different and rapidly changing workplace. (In fact, Cross declares the

book itself as the beta edition and actually suggests checking his website and blog for updates.) Cross writes that the value of time has changed: Not only is more activity packed into each minute, but the rate of change itself is increasing. He defines this acceleration as the hyperinflation of time-much more happens in a minute today than one hundred years ago. He also explains how the vast array of digital learning tools that workers are now accessing via computers, personal digital assistants, and cell phones plays into the rapid workplace culture. Against this backdrop, he makes a case for knowledge workers to forget the traditional mindsets about learning.


In the subsequent chapters, Cross demonstrates that informal learning is indeed a more natural way of acquiring knowledge in today’s networked communities. He defines learning as “that which enables you to participate successfully in life, at work, and in the groups that matter to you,” and makes an important distinction between mandatory training and learning by choice. “Training is something that is pushed on you,” he writes. “Learning is something you choose to do, whether you’re being trained or not.”


In discussing meta-learning, which treats learning as a process, Cross distinguishes between three types

of learners who possess three different styles of learning. Novice workers benefit from a directed method of learning; mature workers are self-directed; and senior workers learn by helping others. From a meta-learning standpoint, organizations gain when they serve mature workers-the often ignored segment-by investing more heavily in self-directed, informal learning. More specifically, Cross says that designers should focus on making it as easy as possible for these workers to “link with others, make discoveries, locate experts, and so forth.”


The second half of the book contains specific suggestions for learning professionals who are interested in expanding informal learning opportunities in their organizations. He suggests a variety of ways to support the process, such as providing time for informal learning on the job, creating places for workers to congregate and learn, and using technology to make collaboration and networking easier. Well-known software companies serve as his examples of progressive organizations that have successfully tapped into their employees’ informal learning habits in the workplace.


Cross also suggests that corporate culture plays a role in the learning process, Executives want execution and performance, but most of them couldn’t care less about the learning process of their employees. Yet, Cross says that informal learning can be a profit strategy they support because it promotes innovation, develops the working process, increases professionalism and morale, and drives other factors that enhance the bottom line. Remember, regardless of how great your training program is, knowledge transfer that results in enhanced performance on the job is what ultimately matters.


Informal Learning is a highly engaging must-read whose main ideas are juxtaposed with clever visuals to enhance reader comprehension. It also is loaded with resources, including three appendices, a glossary of terms, and a list of additional resources.


If you are still skeptical about the value of informal learning, I strongly recommend that you read it. Cross may just change your thinking on learning in the corporate context, like he did mine. I give the book four full cups of coffee.


by Suneeta Mishra, a learning specialist with the Home Depot Store Support Center in Atlanta.


Amazon Reviews


Cycling to knowledge, January 2, 2007

Reviewer: Denham Grey "dgrey" (Indianapolis)


Formal learning is like riding a bus, it goes, starts and stops when & where someone else decides (bus driver and urban transport committee) - informal learning is then like riding a bicycle, you choose the time, route and destination.


Way more learning happens in the coffee room than the classroom, but firms continue to spend way more on formal training than informal learning - there is a huge disconnect right there. The theme is similar in KM - formal structured tools, top-down mandates, ROI and the smells of project management dominance, do little to enhance agility, awareness, creativity, shared understanding and meaning - which add the real value.


Jay talks about unblended learning, emergence, grokking, envisioning, unconferencing, connecting, conversation, community, web2.0 and JDI (just do it). He makes the point that classes are dead, that every learner needs to cultivate an ecology, share via voicing, communicate using stories and build common text by collaborative editing (wikis).


Jay has written this timely book in the form of short stories and vignettes, recounting his experiences and perspectives. I did not find much new stuff, although there are many interesting examples and truths, but Jay managed to hit the high spots so often, I was nodding in agreement as I read along. Clearly we all have to assume responsibility for our own awareness, learning and critical inquiry. Jay neatly illustrates the tools, hints at the practices (which need more refinement) and paints the landscape.



10 Things I Like About This Book, December 16, 2006

Reviewer: William Veltrop (Soquel, California)


First, a bit of context: I'm a seasoned (30+ years) practitioner in the field of leadership development, organizational learning, design and change. I've come to see that the work of transforming our organizations to new levels of consciousness, effectiveness and sustainability rests on our skill as practitioners and leaders in achieving a breakthrough an organization's capacity to learn how to learn--to be responsive to ever-increasing challenges and ever-increasing rates of change.


I've long been aware of the high cost and relative ineffectiveness of conventional "butts-in-seats" approaches to individual and organizational learning. The accelerating emergence of relevant learning strategies, methods, technologies and tools over the past decade has been encouraging--necessary but not sufficient. Jay Cross' wonderfully crafted Informal Learning constitutes a major breakthrough for all who care about transforming the organizations they serve.




1. It does a magnificent job of explaining how we actually learn. It turns much "conventional wisdom" on its head. It provides us a cornucopia of innovative ideas for how to stimulate a culture of learning and innovation throughout an organization.


2. It's clear, clean and creatively written/formatted. I was pulled into and through the book by Jay's open, straight-talking, conversational style. His use of a variety of illustrations and juicy sidebar tidbits kept luring me to go just a bit further. The accessibility of information is superb.


3. It's alive. It's up-to-the minute and it anticipates a future where organizations are becoming increasingly alive and conscious because they've mastered the art of encouraging and nurturing informal learning.


4. Jay has distilled hard-earned wisdom from a rich collection of experts and pioneers--transformation-minded innovators and practitioner-theorists who I deeply respect--infinite players such as John Seely Brown, Etienne Wenger, David Cooperrider, Juanita Brown, David Sibbet, Verna Allee, Bruce Cryer and George Leonard.


5. Informal Learning is extraordinarily comprehensive and discerning. Jay has cast a wide net and presented us with only that which is value-adding. He has separated the wheat from the chaff.


6. It's an out-of-the-box paradigm-shifting book. He shakes up our traditional ways of thinking about learning, training and education in organizations. Informal Learning provides a variety of cures for "hardening of the categories."


7. It challenges and supports HR and Training departments to multiply their effectiveness in promoting and sustaining a vibrant informal learning culture. It provides pragmatic guidance in creative ways of weaving the work of people development throughout the fabric of an organization's operations.


8. It both challenges all organizational leaders to take direct responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment--a "learnscape"--where informal learning will naturally take root and flourish. It then provides a plethora of ideas for how to make that a reality.


9. I can easily visualize a number of generative ways of planting this book in organizations--ways that will cause relevant ideas to germinate, take root, grow and spread.


10. Best of all, Jay has built a strong case for treating an organization's approach to learning as a potential core business strategy. As we move into an era of ever-increasing change, an organization's capacity to learn and to innovate will become increasingly crucial to it's sustainability.


So -- Thank you, Jay Cross! Your book is a great piece of work--a major contribution to the world of organizations, leadership development, organizational design, learning and change. Leaders and practitioners everywhere will gain much by accessing and experimenting with the many ideas and insights you have provided us in this book.




“Informal learning is the perfect theme for exploring the next wave of our field. Jay Cross continues to push our thinking on the transformational forces of knowledge, learning and performance. A must read!”

Elliott Masie, founder, The MASIE Center's Learning CONSORTIUM


“Jay Cross provides an important challenge for us all—to move our focus from the classroom to the workplace, and, in doing so, reframe what we do in ways that much more closely reflect how people actually learn and perform on the job. Informal Learning has profound implications for how we—from trainers to chief learning officers, and from front-line business managers to executives—must rethink our ideas and practices, not in some distant future, but right now.”

Marc J. Rosenberg, management consultant and author, Beyond E-Learning


“The one sentence from this book that hit me like a train—‘Most corporations invest their training budget where it will have the least impact.’ Wow. In an era of demanding ROI, shrinking budgets and the insistence to do more with less, think of the impact that informal learning could have if it could truly focus learning and efforts for maximum impact.

Mark Oehlert, Learning Strategy Architect, Booz Allen Hamilton


“Outstanding! Finally, a book that walks its own talk. Jay Cross forces us to look at informal learning in a new way, the right way, helping casual observers and seasoned practitioners understand how people truly learn. I've waited a lifetime for this book.”

Marcia L. Conner, author, Learn More Now and Creating a Learning Culture, managing director, Ageless Learner


“When you look back at your most powerful and deep learning, it's informal. It's in context. It has meaning. And it's guided by realities that rarely get addressed in formal training programs. Accepting this thinking is fundamental to designing learning and performance experiences realistically. Acting on it is necessary for success.”

Gloria Gery, author, Electronic Performance Support Systems


“Shows how informal learning experiences connect us with information, helps us share ideas, obtain new perspectives, and even helps us create new knowledge together.”

Ellen Wagner, director, Worldwide eLearning, Adobe Systems


“Jay Cross understands learning like no-one else. In Informal Learning, he taps a fabulous array of real-life examples to provide practical insights for individuals and organizations to learn and succeed in the knowledge economy.”

Ross Dawson, author and chairman, Future Exploration Network


“Informal learning is something a lot of people are talking about, but which no one quite seems to be able to get a grasp of. Jay Cross is putting the pieces of the puzzle together in his new book, whose direct and conversational style is perfect for the topic. Now you may object that a book is too formal a way to learn about informal learning. And Jay may even agree. When he lists the major sources of our learning, he mentions everyone from your sister to your boss, but he does not mention books. Well, don’t believe him: reading this one will prove that there is life yet for splendid learning in good old books.”

Etienne Wenger, CP Square



“Jay Cross is a brilliant writer, synthesizer of ideas, and advocate for optimizing the development of human capital. Organizational development professionals, human resource directors, people managers, those concerned with 'the social life of information', read this book. It will cause you to think and act!”

Edward L. Davis, author, Lessons For Tomorrow, Bringing America's School Back From The Brink


“Life is all about learning and learning to learn is the most valuable investment an organization can make on his staff ever. If you are eager to learn how organizations can truly boost the potential of their high performance individuals, Informal Learning is the first, readable, non-technical visual map to the fascinating journey of getting better at learning more.”

Robin Good, chief editor, Robin Good Online Publishing Network


“You'll learn more reading this book than sitting in lectures. Jay will make you think and worry. Those are good things, in my view.”

Allison Rossett, San Diego State University



“As usual, Jay has his finger on the pulse of trends in corporate learning. He combines a thorough and engaging review of the rationale and manifestations of informal learning with a compelling perspective on its value. This book is a must read for anyone in the learning field today.”

Brenda Sugrue, director of research, ASTD



‘The world has been waiting for this book. Learning will never be the same.

Jane Hart, WallerHart Learning Architects


“Jay Cross is one of the pioneers in the field, one of the first to understand how the internet changes learning in the workplace. This book shows you how to improve learning in the workplace by working with, not against, new technologies, and does so in an engaging and informative manner. A must for any corporate trainer's bookshelf.”

Stephen Downes, National Research Council of Canada


“Corporations are just beginning to warm up to what Jay Cross has known for a long time: the water cooler is the new corporate university, and idle chatter (the productive kind) should be encouraged, not stamped out. Read this book if you want to understand how the learning most people think of as unimportant and unproductive is probably the most powerful learning of all—and how to amplify that.”

Jerry Michalski, Sociate


“Jay Cross distills years of experience and timeless wisdom into simple principles for what really works. He gracefully blows away the cobwebs of popular myths and misconceptions so that we can see the truly effective and astonishingly easy ways we can best support collaboration and learning.”

Verna Allee, founder, ValueNet Works, author, The Future of Knowledge


“Learning happens on the job, in the break rooms and around the water cooler. As life and business get faster and more complex, informal learning is the only option. How can you design learning structures and environments that support informal learning? Ask Jay. He got e-learning before anyone else. Now he gets informal learning. He just plain ‘gets it.’ And now that he's written a book, you can get it too.”

Dave Gray, CEO, xplane


“During the many chats and exchanges I have had with Jay, I always felt I learnt a lot from his insights, wisdom and wit. Therefore it seems almost a contradiction in terms that Jay is putting all his thoughts and observations on informal learning into a book, the container par excellence of formal learning, as we know it. In between the informal chats with Jay, this book will do great for me now, until our next meeting!”

Rebecca Stromeyer, managing director, ICWE, Online Educa


“Jay’s book demonstrates that informal learning is linked to innovations in business management, employee motivation, communities of practice, and productivity. If you have been a hermit for the past few years, reading this book will quickly bring you up-to-date and push your thinking ahead to the coming decades.”

Curtis J. Bonk, professor, Indiana University and President, SurveyShare, Inc.


“Learning can not be left to chance! The skill sets required by the new business environment of the 21st century can no longer be served by the traditional training methods of the 2oth century…how we even think about learning must change. Jay Cross is right on target. Every learning and business executive should read this important book. It will raise your consciousness about informal learning as the most important component of an enterprise learning environment.”

Frank J. Anderson, Jr president and chief learning officer, Defense Acquisition University


 “We’re moving into an age where informal learning is recognized for what it is, our greatest service provider! You want to know how we’re going to get there. This book by emergent learning guru Jay Cross is here to help you.”

Peter Issackson, Intersmart, Paris


“In Informal Learning, Jay Cross presents, with dramatic clarity—How and why people can learn at a lightning-fast pace, even in what seem to be the stodgiest organizations or environments; How entire organizations can be transformed overnight; How enterprises that understand learning, social networking, and the full potential of the Internet, can position themselves to anticipate changes, leap on opportunities, and enjoy extreme success; and How to create conditions that nurture creative, responsive individuals who keep the organization flexible, dynamic, and thriving.”

Susan Smith Nash, Leadership and the eLearning Organization



For some months now I've been carrying Jay Cross's new book Informal Learning around in my bag to read on train journeys. I must have been making lots of very short journeys because I never seem to have spent more than ten minutes or so on any one of the topics - a sort of lucky dip reading experience. Perhaps this is because I was already sold on the central idea - that informal learning was an important and often neglected element of learning at work - and so was really just looking for those little extras that a first rate thinker and communicator like Jay Cross is likely to have gathered together in such a publication.

So, what do I think? I like it. Jay's friendly, unassuming and approachable personality shines through the book. I get the impression he's writing for me. In terms of content, I measure books on the number of sections that I've underlined or annotated and I've just counted 50 - I make that less than a dollar a hit.seduction selbstvertrauen

Clive Shepherd, Clive on Learning Blog


Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance


Jay Cross has done a wonderful job of surveying the new field of knowledge work and what those of us in the 21st Century are doing to help people truly learn in groups and organization. He takes inspiration for the title from the work of the Institute for Research on Learning (now part of Far West Labs) that found that informal, social learning was the most powerful for bringing about real change and development. This work sparked the communities of practice movement among others. 


David Sibbett



O que é a aprendizagem informal? A aprendizagem informal é a maneira como aprendemos a falar a nossa língua, o modo como aprendemos a ser quem somos, a forma como aprendemos a nossa cultura. A aprendizagem informal é tudo que não é aprendizagem formal. A aprendizagem formal envolve geralmente um curriculum que não é o que nós queremos mas o que alguém decidiu para nós, frequentemente ela é feita ao mesmo tempo e no mesmo lugar com outras pessoas e, finalmente, há algum reconhecimento no fim, como por exemplo um diploma, um certificado ou uma estrelinha de ouro. Nós sabemos quando ele acaba. A aprendizagem informal nunca acaba, ela continua a toda a hora.


Aspie Home Education



“Jay is an evangelist of the intelligent application of new learning methods and tools, and he helps organizations improve the performance of their people by speeding up their learning. Jay is also an absolutely great presenter, a good writer, and a sharp mind to work with.” Robin Good


“Internet Time dominates the North American eLearning information landscape. I just can’t believe any other site comes close. At Learning Designs Online, it is now our principal point of reference. You should charge for this–it is truely awesome.” Al Bailey


“Take a mega-high IQ, some Berkeley attitude, a dose of e-learning curiosity and you get Jay Cross. For opinion and analysis, nothing is as interesting or fun as Jay’s blog.” Kevin Kruse, eLearning Guru


“When I started in this field, your site was one of those that quickly got me up to date and current on the subject. Plus, I find that what you put up is very much ‘ahead of the curve.’” Rod Savoie


elearnspace interview with Jay


Greenwood Gazette column on Jay


“There are several blogs in the e-learning space, but the longest running and most robust blog comes from Jay Cross at Internet Time Group.” Marc Rosenberg, Beyond eLearning


“You give us Europeans an opportunity to follow the hottest e-learning topics being discussed in the USA.” Kari Mikkel


“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…you’ve got the best e-learning reference source on the web.” Ned Davis


“I’ve just spent the better part of the day wandering around your Internet Time/ eLearning site in search of a good keynoter for our conference next August. You really have too much information there and you’ve displayed it too well.”


“Internet Time is the most useful elearning site on the web.” Dennis Callahan


“Jay Cross, among just a few others, gives me the impetus to keep on moving ahead into uncharted territory.” Michael Hotrum


“Very few times have I bumped into a presentation material around the world of Learning and Knowledge that I may have enjoyed just as much as the one I have just been through from Jay Cross over at Informal Learning. It is titled Informal Learning Research Findings. There are just so many things that Jay mentions throughout the presentation that in itself it is just worth while the time to go through it. It is not too long so you can just sit down, relax and enjoy the show. Because it certainly has been one of those presentations worth while listening and learning from.” Luis Suarez






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