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Differences Between Informal and Formal Education

Education is the act of enabling learning, the acquisition of educational knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and habits from people who have acquired it through a life experience. There are many forms of education such as the classroom education, home schooling, and ESL (English as a Second Language) education among others. Educational systems may be structured in terms of time, subject, discipline or an individual student. Most educational systems have been developed by humans over centuries. The process involves the acquisition of acquired knowledge by children through their interactions with their parents, caretakers, elders and peers.

Informal education is based on social media and peer influence, which are usually not controlled by any particular system. It is a broad collection of practices from diverse sources which have been identified as contributing to the development of social skills and the informal learning process. Informal education comprises diverse activities, practices and tools which were developed to enhance the learning process and enhance the individual’s personal development.

Knowledge transfer is a critical factor in any learning process, be it formal or informal. Informal learning has a much broader definition in education therefore it is necessary to define what is meant by informal and non-formal learning. The term non-formal can mean different things for different individuals and in different contexts.

Informal learning process refers to the use of various informal strategies and social media in order to facilitate learning. Social media includes SMS, emails, chat room, blogs, online forums and message boards among others. Informal learning is facilitated by such sources as: personal experiences, the shared information and knowledge with other like-minded people, the written word, cultural norms, informal communication such as emails, text, multimedia, music and other types of communication. This information system is facilitated by different sources including: television, radio, newspaper, internet and other forms of media.

The informal education is associated with cultural change and the shifting of values from the traditional education system to a more flexible and dynamic education system. Informal education is very different from the formal education. It does not insist on classroom education but it facilitates an environment where learners are given flexibility to explore and learn. Formal education is based on classroom teaching and rigid rules have been set aside in order to inculcate a set of academic and social expectations.

The learning methodology is different when comparing informal education to that of formal education. Informal education places an emphasis on experience based learning where students gain knowledge by engaging with their peers in real time. Students also gain knowledge from observing others in real time as they interact with each other. Traditional classroom based education is still used in informal education where the learning methodologies are structured to ensure uniformity and predictability of the outcomes.

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